The project was set up with a main focus of implementing water conservation initiative in school environment:
- To estimate the school water footprint in Convent Infant Jesus (1) Primary School in Malacca (Malaysia)
- To identify the most suitable water conservation method for Convent Infant Jesus (1) Primary School
- To construct the rainwater harvesting system in the location of most water use in school building
The following actions were applied to achieve the project objectives:
A school water audit was conducted from August to September 2019. Prior to the water audit, 15 school children were trained to perform water audits in four locations, namely, in the canteen(s), toilet(s), the prayer room(s) and garden. A water audit module was developed in the Malay language for this school by adapting the School Water Audit (National Wildlife Federation 2012) and Eco-Schools USA Water Audit (National Wildlife Federation 2012) guidelines. Water use was recorded manually in a water audit form for one month by the trained school children at the selected school locations. Water use data in water audit form in each school location was calculated to obtain overall water footprint in school environment. Water footprint information then was used to determine the highest water use in school locations and suitable potential way to reduce the highest water use in school. Then, all water conservation methods (rainwater harvesting technology, behaviour changes and water saving devices) were discussed over a series of meetings with the school headmaster, teachers, the Teacher and Parents Association, and Green Growth Asia Foundation (non-governmental organization). Key principles and steps of, Stakeholder Analysis, Integrated Urban Water Management Plans and Integrated Flood Management Plans were used as main guide in these series of meetings. The factors (expertise availability, financial concerns, effects of existing pipe system and sustainability potential) were discussed.
The most suitable water conservation method was determined for the lavatory, which used the most water relative to other selected locations. Ultimately, rainwater harvesting technology was selected because this method would allow for the utilization of a renewable source (rainwater) from the building rooftop and utilizes the existing plumping system. From financial perspective, rainwater harvesting system construction is seen as financially affordable method with well experienced contractor. Furthermore, rainwater harvesting technology method is also seen which will be able to create a long-term collaboration between the school and other parties (local authority and non-governmental organization) which increases the sustainability of the rainwater harvesting technology.
A suitable rainwater harvesting system was determined based on guidelines by the National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (2016). The school building with the highest water use was selected and examined to calculate the rooftop area. The collected rainwater was delivered to polyethylene storage tank using a PVC gutter and down-pipe system. The 300 gallon polyethylene storage tank was installed near the lavatory while a 200 gallon polyethylene storage tank was installed on top of the lavatory roof. Furthermore, wire mesh was placed over the top of the down-pipes to prevent dry leaves and debris from entering the storage tank. A float valve was attached to both of the polyethylene storage tanks to indicate the water level. The rainwater collected from the harvesting system was stored in two polyethylene storage tanks, both of which were utilized to flush 6L from each of the six toilets in the lavatory. With total of 1892.71L (500 gallon) of rainwater stored in two polyethylene storage tanks, the six toilets utilize 36L water, with an average of 75 flushings total for six toilets per week that leads to a water saving efficiency of 100% in lavatory.