Namibia: Recycling water in the desert
From the Gondwana collection.
Water is a precious resource on Earth and is particularly valued in an arid country like Namibia. Gondwana’s water recycling plants have put an end to the endless sewage challenges and allowed the recycled water to be used to create gardens and maintain native trees.
They discovered early on that French drains were problematic when there was high occupancy in lodges, sometimes leaks and overflows, attracting mosquitoes and creating a health risk. And although water recycling plants are expensive and therefore not common in Namibia, the team knew they were the answer from the start.
In the late 1990s, Gondwana founder Manni Goldbeck noticed the water recycling plant at Namibia Wildlife Resorts’ Hobas camp, which was one of the country’s first recycling plants, and every time he took guests to the canyon viewpoints, he visited it. He noticed that it was low-maintenance and that the recycled water kept the lawn and garden green, and he realized that this would be a solution to their sewage problems.
He kept the dream alive and when Canyon Village was built he ensured that a water recycling plant was built for the Village and Lodge. Dr Lambert from Aqua Services designed the system and they were commissioned to install it. As this was an expensive business, Gondwana negotiated with them that they would do as much as possible on their own to keep costs down.
When Namib Desert Lodge was built, it was obvious that they couldn’t do without it. The Namib Rest Camp French drain was close to the reception area and although it fed a huge, cheerful marula that provided shade for over twenty cars, it was not a practical option for the sewers.
It follows that once the water recycling plant is in place, a native garden could be cultivated. Over the years, exotic plants and trees have been suppressed to be replaced by native flora. It was not done at random. Jo Tagg and Dr Chris Brown, esteemed members of the team’s environmental committee at the time, researched what trees were in the area and visited nurseries across the country to purchase the saplings. It is through their initiative and visionary approach that Namib Desert Lodge has become home to an indigenous oasis, attracting a rich and varied bird life.
Today, 90% of Gondwana’s lodges have water recycling plants, which not only provide cleaner solutions for wastewater, but nourish gardens and green deserts.