Determining the performance of large biofiltration cells in treating contaminated runoff from a slum settlement and its reuse for urban food production
Royal Society International Collaboration Award with Dr Kevin Winter, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Professor Sue Charlesworth
Information on project
This project will determine the ability of purpose-built, large-scale biofiltration cells downstream from a large informal settlement to treat contaminated runoff resulting from dysfunctional sanitation and limited urban drainage infrastructure, to ensure safe, productive water supporting sustainable livelihoods through food production. The proposal is rooted in a South African context where resources are severely constrained and there is an urgent challenge to reduce poverty and inequality, that continue to be shaped by the Apartheid era legacy. The main study site is the Water Hub (see photo 1), a research centre currently under development in Franschhoek, Western Cape (WC) Province supported by a field site at Ryton Organic Gardens (ROG) Coventry, UK.
Abandoned sewage treatment works, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.
The Water Hub is surrounded by commercial farms and a slum settlement of 6000 inhabitants with access to limited sanitation and drainage infrastructure.
Upstream of the informal settlement at Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa. In the foreground is the river which passes through the informal settlement and downstream into the biofiltration cells shown in photo 3 below.
Old, abandoned wastewater treatment infrastructure, has been funded recently by the WC government to develop a conceptual plan, retrofit 6 sludge drying beds as biofiltration cells (see photo 3), and restore a house for a researcher to live on site.
Large biofiltration cells retrofitted at the Water Hub, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.
The 3-year project will investigate the extent to which contaminated river water can be cleaned using nature-based bioprocessing approaches and to highlight the potential for using such systems in planning other urban areas. Thus, 6 cells smaller-scale biofiltration cells will be constructed at CAWR whose purpose will be to provide information in the UK context. The proposed collaborative study will build much needed knowledge and experience to deal with the deteriorating quality of drainage water resulting in the collapse of ecological systems and services. In addition, The Western Cape is currently in the grip of a severe drought; there is an urgent need to generate new evidence based data to build a comprehensive understanding of sustainable water reuse. This will require a paradigm shift to appropriate practices that contribute to a new generation of water sensitive settlements in South Africa applicable elsewhere in Africa.
SHIFFT: Supporting Holistic “Innovation” and the diFFusion of Agroecolgical innovaTion
Beginning in January 2018 (and running to December 2020), this project will look at how processes of ‘innovation’ in agroecology and food sovereignty – what does it look like, is it different from other innovation approaches, and how do agroecological innovations spread around? The goal is to support farmers, communities and social movements in developing approaches to innovation that can help to develop agroecology as an alternative paradigm to corporate-industrial agriculture.
Postgraduate Researcher of the Year
As part of the Research Hootenanny held at Elm Bank, the new home of the Centre for Research Capability and Development, CAWR nominated Morwenna McKenzie to represent the postgraduate team in the Postgraduate Researcher of the Year competition.
Exploring the Impacts of Brexit for Protected Food Names PFN in Wales
This research explores the potential impacts and opportunities associated with ‘Brexit’ for the Welsh beef and lamb sector. We will examine the current relationship the Welsh beef and lamb sector has with the EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) scheme, and investigate the possible role this certification may have for Wales once the process of exiting the EU is completed.
The aim of this project is to reach higher levels of organisation and networking, and develop a healthier, and more productive and harmonious farming sector in Europe for the long term.