Drinking Contaminated Water Prompts Rural Boy to Invent Technology That Will Decontaminate SA’s Water

Drinking Contaminated Water Prompts Rural Boy to Invent Technology That Will Decontaminate SA’s Water

  • A young student has invented a technology that uses clinoptilolite to remove ammonia from water
  • His research project is being carried out at a water purification plant supplying Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality
  • He chose to study water decontamination after salty communal water in Botlokwa left him and other villagers with discoloured teeth

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By Montsho Matlala - Freelance Journalist

With slightly discoloured teeth from drinking salty communal water from boreholes in rural Botlokwa, near Polokwane, a young man is focusing his university studies on trying to decontaminate water that feeds residents of Mzansi’s capital Pretoria. The 22-year-old hopes his research project has the potential for the whole world.

As part of his studies at the University of Limpopo (UL), Phuti Mokgehle has innovated a technology using clinoptilolite that gets rid of ammonia from water that flows to Wallmansthal Water Purification Plant to feed residents under Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.

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Contaminated Water, Limpopo, Phuti Mokgehle, Wallmansthal Water Treatment, Mamotshana Primary, Motlalaohle Secondary
Phuti Mokgehle experiments with his technology using clinoptilolite to remove ammonia from drinking water. Images: Supplied
Source: UGC
“Ammonia is definitely not responsible for teeth discolouration and the salt like taste from drinking water at my village, Sekonye in Botlokwa, but it is dangerous to aquatic life with consequence to us.

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Of course, the salty taste of water and people with teeth discolouration provoked me to bite back at the water, hence my studies,” the young student chuckled.

Asked to explain his research project in simple terms, he said,

“Water with a high level of ammonia leads to eutrophication causing the growth of algal bloom, the green mat at the top of the water. This will prevent sunlight from penetrating the bottom water thus depleting the amount of oxygen available in the water.
As a result, an anaerobic environment will set in creating conditions for fish and other aquatic species to die of lack of oxygen. The species will decompose and release carbon dioxide which is dangerous to all lives.”

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Why choose Tswane water instead of Polokwane Municipality or Molemole Municipality in Botlokwa?

“There is a collaboration between UL and Magalies Water ( which caters for Tshwane Metropolitan) and the latter is concerned about ammonia at Wallmansthal Water Treatment which cost them millions per year.
A cost-effective method is needed to treat raw water from Roodeplat Dam,” he answered.

Upon completion of his four-year Honors degree in water and sanitation sciences this year Mokgehle will join the Department of Water and Sanitation graduate programme, to start his “journey of decontaminating drinking water for the nation.”

Mokgehle is grateful for the professional support from his lecturers, supervisors and department heads at the UL in his studies.

“And I salute everyone including employees who help in my research project. My parents, Wilson and Asnath Mokgehle did a great job, for enrolling me at our local rural schools, Mamotshana Primary and Motlalaohle Secondary respectively.

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They are still very supportive of what I am studying to do,” said the man who tasted salty water and vowed to bite back to avenge for teeth discolouration and bitter taste.

From Covid to Master’s graduate: Man shares story of struggle with health and inspires many

Briefly News previously reported that Twitter user @OnDaRocks6 shared a short yet powerful post on the microblogging application. The young man battled Covid-19 in December 2020 and was hospitalised.

A year later he is thriving as he bagged his Master's degree. His bio on the bluebird application states that he is an attorney by profession. He shared two images - one from 2020 where he was in the hospital and the other from this year where he graduated.

@OnDaRocks6's post has gained almost 11 000 likes on Twitter as peeps from all over Mzansi shared how truly amazed and inspired they were by his determination.

Source: Briefly News

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