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The College of the Marshall Islands (CMI) in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, has embarked on a 5-year redevelopment programme of the Uliga campus. The Master Plan for the campus was prepared in 2006 by Beca International Consultants Ltd (Beca). The CMI Planning Committee brief to the consultant was to achieve a water utility infrastructure on campus that was as self sufficient from the municipal water supplies as possible. Rainwater collection, water treatment and sewage treatment and alternative energy options for the campus were to be included in the Master Plan report.

The utilisation of water on the CMI campus was considered as a single integrated strategy whereby the maximum use is made of on-site resources. The Master plan envisaged reduction of external dependence on water supply by collection and treatment of roof water for supplementing the potable supply, with segregation of toilet wastes (blackwater) from other wastewater (greywater), and recovery and treatment of the greywater to provide toilet flushing water. However, with a more detailed engineering assessment, the ability to sustainably substitute treated greywater for saline toilet flushing water was in doubt.

The paper describes the alternative water strategy to provide all campus water, including toilet flushing, as treated potable-grade freshwater. As the roofwater collection was insufficient to meet the total campus water demand it was proposed to supplement the potable water by reverse osmosis (RO) of seawater. Innovative use of flexible “bladder” tanks for roofwater and treated water storage is proposed to overcome problems of saltwater contamination from high groundwater and leaking tanks.

The water treatment facility will become part of the CMI teaching/education programme into sustainable resources. The water plant will be powered by photovoltaic solar panels and a wind turbine as part of an overall alternative energy solution. It is expected that the photovoltaic and wind energy will contribute the equivalent of running the RO water plant for most of the year.

A diesel generator will be installed to provide back-up power supply to the site in conjunction with the alternative energy systems. CMI intends to research the use of coconut oil as a diesel fuel substitute. The generator could be run on coconut oil based bio-diesel to achieve energy self sufficiency. This research may have spin-offs for other outer atolls in the production of coconut oil to provide a more sustainable income than the current copra based income.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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