Integrative Bio-Systems Design.

Water - Capture & Re-use

Bothlabela Village, Alexandra Far East Bank - A rainwater collection system with a solar pump.

Bothlabela Village, Alexandra Far East Bank - A rainwater collection system with a solar pump.

Water is one of the most precious and vitally-important resources, essential to human, animal and plant life.

Most urban water supply is designed in a linear, throughput-oriented way. Water is supplied by centralised municipal facilities that often draw billions of liters of water from remote dams and catchment areas. Local rainfall is rarely used, but is treated as a bulk waste and disposed of into municipal drains and sewerage downlines, or into rivers. Potable water is used to dispose of human waste when alternative options are available.

Inadequate run-off management can cause severe damage to buildings through flooding, scouring, rising damp, blistering and efflorescences. It can also cause severe problems by blocking municipal drainage systems. Unmanaged, water poses a risk. Managed cleverly, site catchment and runoff can represent a valuable resource in the long-term.

The provision of clean, potable water to homes, and the disposal or rehabilitation of wastewater is a central aspect of any building’s life-support infrastructure. Recent research by Anthony Turton suggests that by 2012, all available surface water in SA will be used. This makes industrial, commercial and residential water-saving systems a very important strategy to reduce the risk of water poverty and absolute resource shortages.

It is essential to begin integrating water harvesting, storage and biofiltration systems into residential and commercial design and construction. Below are various ways we can help design your building to capture ambient water, to reduce the amount of water used, and to re-use or re-cycle wastewater.

Rainwater Tanks and Storage Systems

Tanks attached to the guttering system provide an effective way to store rainwater. Swimming pools can be retrofitted to become freshwater storage systems with wetland biofilters. Open Synergy can design and manage the installation or construction of rainwater tanks. Ferrocrete tanks have the advantage of being durable, aesthetically more pleasing, and storing greater volumes at a lower over-all cost.

Landscape Stormwater Catchment Systems


By using swales, diversion drains, berms, pits, and ponds, the landscape itself can act to direct, collect, and store surface run-off for further use. We analyse the landscape to identify potentials for sttormwater catchment, and consult with your team of professionals to ensure that stormwater systems can be integrated with the site development process at an early stage.

Architectural Catchment Systems

Cleverly designed roofs can guide rainwater into sumps and drains that are integrated with the architectural design of buildings. This optimises the capacity to harvest run-off from key points, and reduces storm-water risks to buildings.

Greywater Treatment

Wastewater from showers, handbasins, dishwashers, washing machines and tubs can be filtered and oxygenated in greywater systems for re-use in landscape irrigation, which can make up more than 40% of residential water bills. Simple greywater systems can be pleasant garden features integrated with fountains that add aesthetic and lifestyle value to homes and offices.

Pumps, Circulation & Irrigation Systems

Once water has been collected and stored, it is essential to plan for its ongoing circulation to prevent stagnation. We specialise in the design of automated, off-grid pumping and irrigation systems powered by solar energy. We prefer to specify water-efficient irrigation systems like drip-lines, which ensure the most efficient use of water with minimal losses to evaporation.

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