3 April 2024

Greensource sports grounds deliver clean water to drought-stricken communities

Safe water is a basic human right. In 2010, the UN declared “the right to safe and clean drinking water essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights’’1. That same ye...

Safe water is a basic human right. In 2010, the UN declared “the right to safe and clean drinking water essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights’’1. That same year, an ingenious idea took root: using Pentair membrane technology, GreenSource is now bringing real change to remote communities with sports fields that produce drinking water.

 A soccer pitch that also serves as a water treatment plant. Or is it the other way around? The people benefiting from GreenSource have already moved beyond this question.

A reliable source of drinking water brings new life and vigor to vulnerable communities in arid areas. Combined with a sports field, it provides young people with a local center that inspires them to discover their talents and possibilities. Communities with GreenSource sports grounds/water plants are seeing progress and development on multiple counts. It underlines the true value of clean drinking water for everyone.

How it started

The project's concept originated during the 2010 World Cup when Dutch engineers visited rural regions of South Africa. They observed the locals' passion for soccer but also realized that the community was facing difficulties due to water scarcity.

Water scarcity has been found to be attributable to demand-driven, climate-driven, and pollution-driven causes2. Greenpeace states that 19 percent of the rural population [of South Africa] lacks access to a reliable water supply, and 33 percent do not have basic sanitation services. While rural citizens suffer the most, over 26 percent of all schools (urban or rural) and 45 percent of clinics have no water access3.

As a result, a critical solution was conceived and pitched to organizations in South Africa and the Netherlands.

Playground and water plant

Co-funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, GreenSource started as a technical partnership between Pentair, Royal TenCate, and Drain Products. In cooperation with educational and developmental organizations, a water filtration system that also serves as a multi-sports playground that can be available year-round was developed.

The first GreenSource installation was built in 2015 at Moedwil Secondary School in Rustenburg, South Africa.

The GreenSource pitches are small water collection and treatment facilities that can provide up to 17 million liters of clean drinking water a year, with the capacity to store up to 64,000 liters of water

While the sports facilities quickly become a focal point in villages, with this solution, they also function as the local drinking water filtration system. As rain cannot be counted on, the system processes groundwater. Collected rainwater and groundwater are stored in water tanks before processing.

The synthetic turf pitch, filled with sand, acts as a catchment base for rain. Several layers of geotextiles provide for pre-filtration. At the heart of every GreenSource pitch are Pentair ultrafiltration (UF) membrane elements. They assist in removing suspended solids and other contaminations, including viruses and bacteria

Flywheel for development

With 16 GreenSource pits constructed in South Africa out of a target of 20, a number of positive effects have become visible.

Communities have a reduced dependency on boreholes that frequently run dry because underground aquifers are being depleted.
Access to clean water is a crucial factor in driving local development. It helps raise awareness regarding proper water management, improves overall health, and creates opportunities for new business ventures, such as small-scale agriculture, water bottling, ice cube production, etc.

GreenSource has provided a flywheel for development in drought-stricken and disadvantaged communities.

 1) ‘About Water and Sanitation: OHCHR and the right to water and sanitation’.OHCHR. https://www.ohchr.org/en/water-and-sanitation/about-water-and-sanitation#:~:text=On%2028%20July%202010%2C%20the,RES%2F64%2F292 
 2) 'Water Scarcity in South Afica: A result of physical or economic factors?’. Nhlanhla Mnisi. https://hsf.org.za/publications/hsf-briefs/water-scarcity-in-south-africa-a-result-of-physical-or-economic-factors#_ftn6
 3) ‘Water crisis in South Africa’. Joan Igamba, July, 2022. https://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/blogs/51757/water-crisis-in-south-africa/
 4) ‘GreenSource Highlghts’. Groenwater. https://www.greensourcenpc.co.za/
 5) ‘Pentair UltraFiltration’. Pentair. https://xflow.pentair.com/en/spectrum/ultrafiltration