Addressing Greywater Management Issues in Langrug Using a Sustainable Reiterative Process

The Langrug Greywater Team after final presentation

The Langrug Greywater Team

The Project

From the end of October until mid-December of 2011, four WPI students and four residents of an informal settlement called Langrug (near Stellenbosch, Western Cape Province, South Africa) worked on a project regarding greywater issues in Langrug. The goal of the project was to address greywater issues through community-driven initiatives based on a sustainable upgrading process. Click here for more information regarding the team of students and Langrug residents. The executive summary for this project can be found on the resources page.


At the end of the apartheid era, South Africa faced rapid urbanization across the country. People in search of jobs in the city illegally squatted on the city outskirts, forming unplanned settlements. The South African government has worked diligently to provide proper housing for people living in these settlements, but the waiting list for housing will take decades to satisfy.[5] Recently, the South African government has made a shift towards in-situ upgrading, which focuses on upgrading the settlements instead of moving the residents into government-built housing. One settlement undergoing this type of upgrading is Langrug, located in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch in the Western Cape Province.

Greywater issues in Langrug

Although Langrug faces many problems, the issue of greywater is of great importance. Greywater is non-sewage wastewater stemming from sources such as washing and bathing. It contains a variety of contaminants, ranging from salts and chemicals to bacteria. Greywater streams flow through much of Langrug, mostly unmonitored and uncontrolled, and often clogged with trash and silt. When a stream’s path is blocked, the greywater pools, allowing bacteria to feed on food waste and multiply. This can lead to serious health risks, including infections and rashes. Some even attribute greywater to the spread of tuberculosis in Langrug. When heavy rains overwhelm Langrug’s greywater drainage system, the problems escalate. During the winter, large quantities of rainwater cause the greywater streams to overflow into people’s houses, posing a significant health risk.

Despite the need for intervention around greywater issues, past efforts to address greywater drainage in Langrug have been met with limited community participation. However, community participation and a sense of community ownership is vital to the sustainability of the implemented solutions. Thus, it was determined that initiatives addressing greywater in Langrug must be community-based in all stages of implementation.