Aqualibrium – the SAICE-DFC Water ‘Centenary Schools Water Competition’ 2009

The winners from Grantleigh High school in Richards Bay with the major sponsors DFC Water (Pty) Ltd's Charl Myburgh (left) and Gareth Douglas on the right

The finals of the exciting SAICE-DFC Water ‘Centenary Schools Water Competition’ 2009 were held at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg recently. Deputy-Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi officiated. The new name for the competition, AQUALIBRIUM, was also launched during the event. This worthwhile competition never fails to excite the teams, spectators and everybody involved!


The 2009 champions were the Grantleigh High School from Richards Bay, who came first with 115 penalty points. Second was the team from Hoérskool Duineveld in Upington with 200 penalty points and in the third spot Maritzburg College, Pietermaritzburg with 220 penalty points. The prize-money for the winning teams, their schools and teachers amounted to R21 000-00.

Winners of the regional competitions came to Johannesburg from as far as Bloemfontein, Cape Town, East London, Musina, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay and Upington, representing seven provinces, to battle the local winners for top honours. Learners were flown to Johannesburg and accommodated in a good hotel – an experience that these young people and some of the educators will never forget! For most this was their first experience of the ‘big city’. The teams were also taken to Montecasino, with its distinctive architecture, for dinner. Without the generous sponsorship of DFC Water (Pty) Ltd this event would, of course, not have been possible.

Hard at work

Last year a team finalist, Makume Mamooka, sent this SMS, “I just really want to thank you. The experience I had is priceless and I feel very honoured to have been part of the competition.” In 2008 a previously disadvantaged student started studying civil engineering at the University of Cape Town as a direct result of taking part in this competition. We just have to continue with these kinds of projects in order to make a difference to the scarce skills situation and the lives of many people!

During the finals, Kim Mather, a civil engineering technician from Pietermaritzburg, presented his ‘Fun Science Show’ to the delight and entertainment of everybody!


Both the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and Rand Water celebrated a hundred years of existence in 2003 and as part of their centenary celebrations they launched this joint competition for high school learners devised by Professor Kobus van Zyl and his students at the University of Johannesburg. Since then the competition had been streamlined and has gained momentum in application, such as team building and demonstrations on ‘technovation’ days!

Hoërskool Duineveld, Upington, runners-up with educator Wanda Rossouw and Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi Water distribution networks

Water distribution systems are important to supply safe and clean drinking water to people. The teams are tasked to design a model water distribution network to distribute three litres of water equally between three points on the grid using two different diameter pipes and connection pieces. They are then judged on how well they execute the task ‐ working on a penalty points system. They are allowed three tries in a period of about an hour. This competition exposes learners to the practical application of processes that influence their daily lives, which is how water gets to their homes.

They are made aware of the intricacies involved in the design of water distribution networks and the actual water delivery to households.

As part of the competition the water cycle is explained to the learners. Issues such as why we have to pay for water, explaining the building of dams, distribution of water through water boards to municipalities and then to users, as well as the conservation of our water resources are discussed.

The winning team receiving their prize of R2 000-00 each, R1 000-00 for their educator, Ms Louisa van der Walt and R2 000-00 for their school from Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi A new look

More good news is that Professor Kobus van Zyl currently from the University of Cape Town and the graphics department at the University of Johannesburg created a ‘new look’ for the ‘grid’ used in the competition. This grid, depicting the entire water cycle, was used for the first time this year. This format makes the competition accessible to many more schools.

The competition creates awareness regarding the issues surrounding water in South Africa. It spreads the message that water is a precious commodity, which should be conserved, recycled and re-used.

Through this competition SAICE and DFC Water (Pty) Ltd, the current major sponsor, took the responsibility of spreading the news that water should be used wisely, that infrastructure should be maintained and that new infrastructure should be created to provide potable water to those without water. The Water Research Commission also came on board this year.

This competition strengthens government’s initiatives aimed at encouraging learners to take Mathematics and Science at school and to follow a career as a science or civil engineering professional. Only in this way can we assure that the quality of life of all South Africans will be better in future!

For enquiries and to become part of this very exciting competition, please contact

Marie Ashpole
Tel: 011 805 5947
Fax: 011 805 5971
Cell: 082 870 9229

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