Environmental engineering is a crucially important field in a world that is beset with social problems and environmental crises. These modern problems and crises are mostly a direct result of bad decisions and harmful actions taken in the course of history by human beings. In a very broad sense of the term, we have “engineered” the problems facing society and nature today, and it is up to us to engineer our way clear of them and into a world that is amenable to a healthy and fulfilling life for all, using better knowledge and wiser judgment.
The course aims to present the subject with a good latitude of coverage, examining its development and practice in a holistic way, so that its place in assisting graduates to deal with environmental problems and offer solutions will be meaningful. Students should come out of the course with:
This section contains any introductory materials, as well as the information literacy module.
The first module on "Our coastal areas" provides an overview of the
West Coast of South Africa and Namibia in terms of what is there and
what activities take place along the coast.
The first lecture on the "General Environment" covers aspects relaing
to oceans and currents and marine and coastal ecosystems, as well as
aspects relating to the history and population of this coast. The
second lecture is dedicated to "Activities" along the coast, such as
tourism, mining and fishing, and their use of resources, while also
providing an overview of the socio-economic lansdcape.
The first module on Tools and Governance provides an understanding of
what good governance is, its characteristics and the rules of good
governance, and what good management is, its importance for coastal
areas, and tools for implementing good management practices.
The first lecture on "Good Governance" covers the characteristics of
good governance, its place in sustainable development and the rules of
good governance seen in coastal legislation and policy. The relevance of
environmental ethics is discussed and students are asked to apply it in
an analysis of the environmental decision making process for the
proposed pebble bed modular reactor on the west coast of South Africa.
The second lecture discusses the essence of good management, management
of coastal resources and gives an introduction to tools for such
management, namely, ICZM, EIA and SIA.
The first lecture in this module (Water Quality) aims to provide first a brief overview of the diversity of freshwater ecosystems, how they function and the services that many of them provide to humans. It is only in the light of this information that the implications of different effects on water quality can be understood, in terms of both human and ecosystem health. The lecture outlines the major components of water quality, and summarises how they change, and some of the ecological and /or human health implications of these changes. The use of various water quality management objectives / effluent quality restrictions / guidelines in South Africa is also discussed. Reading material discusses specific effects of human settlements on freshwater ecosystems, and outlines the complexities of catchment level impacts, to show the linkages between social, economic and environmental decisions.
The second lecture (Water Conservation and Demand Management) provides a perspective on the water resource situation in South Africa, and analyses the need for new approaches to water management in light of this situation. Demand side solutions through water conservation and demand management (WC/WDM) are discussed. Short, medium and long term measures are listed as part of a water conservation programme.
After completing the Water module, a student should be able to:
Students are also expected to apply the knowledge acquired in:
The first lecture in this module is an introductory section that looks at the global energy situation, before focussing on some of the key aspects of the South African energy scene. The second lecture in the module addresses issues of energy efficiency and what practical steps can be taken to reduce energy usage, and quantify the associated cost savings.
After completing the Energy module, a student should be able to:
In addition, students should:
The first lecture of this module provides an overview of air pollution issues - the health and environmental impacts and sources - and discusses a system for Air Quality Management. The second lecture is a case study that focusses on vehicle transport as a major source of air pollution in the City of Cape Town.
The module includes a description of the main outdoor (ambient) air pollutants in urban areas and their health impacts, a brief survey of the most common sources of air pollution, an overview of an Emmission Inventory and the basic methods of estimating emmission rates from each of the main categories of air pollutatnt sources, a description of an Air Quality Management System, and a case study : Estimating Vehicle Emmissions in the City of Cape Town.
This module provides an overview of the fields of Waste and Wastewater, each dealt with in separate lectures.The Waste Management lecture covers waste collection, area cleaning and waste disposal. The Wastewater Treatment lecture covers the different treatment processes of a wastewater treatment plant, including both aerobic and anaerobic processes.
After completing the solid Waste Management lecture, students should:
1Understand the basic processes involved in operating a sanitary landfill
2. Appreciate the need for waste minimisation in an urban setting
3. Know how landfills are classified
4. Have a broad understanding of the minimum standards
5. Understand leachate and gas production,and their management
6. Understand the concept, and need for integrated waste management, and how to draft&integrated waste management plans