What Do Alternative Water Systems Mean?

Alternative Water Systems cover a wide variety of sources from boreholes, river water, and industrial process water.

Alternative Water Systems are more commonly being considered for use in homes and business premises as customers become more water-wise solutions. In recent years the Borehole Drilling in Zimbabwe Industry has become aware of an increasing level of alternative systems, particularly municipal supplies, that have been installed incorrectly or have not been adequately maintained, leading to serious public health risks at the properties involved, and potential wider risk to public water supplies. The following guidance covers the key areas which must be adhered to and areas that need careful consideration for anyone designing installing and using these systems.

Water Systems

The purpose of these systems is to provide an alternative to mains drinking water that can be used for processes, or appliances that do not need such high-quality water. This allows for non-wholesome water to be used for the first time, thereby trying to help reduce the reliance on public mains water.

The most common system used in Zimbabwe is groundwater harvesting, through borehole drilling. In general, there are two basic design types for alternative water systems that are commonly used to distribute water to the end-use appliances, direct and indirect, and they both have their merits and drawbacks.

Direct systems

This is where water is pumped directly from a borehole or storage such as the elevated tank, direct to the points of use, for example, toilets and outside taps. 

Indirect systems

This is where the alternative water is pumped from the borehole or storage tank up to an intermediate cistern at a high level, for example in the elevated water storage tank, from where it can then feed by gravity to the points of use. By having the mains water backup connected to this cistern(water storage tank) it can be made to change over seamlessly in the event of a problem with the system or a power failure. To make sure this will work it is essential to ensure the solenoid valve on the backup supply is of a type that will open when there is no electrical power to it or, that an easily accessible manual by-pass valve is installed so it can turn the ball valve on.

Water Systems 2

Whilst this type of system can easily cope with a failure be it electrical or a system fault, it does require some space to locate the high-level storage cistern(water storage tank) and additional plumbing. This system typically provides low-pressure water to the appliances and potentially low flow rates which can be overcome by good design and tap selection etc. It is necessary that whatever alternative source of water has been selected the treatment system used must be able to deliver an appropriate level of water quality for the end-user to ensure the users are not exposed to undue risks. Zinwa has set health-based water quality requirements for the supply of groundwater supply.

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