Gauteng and NW Province

South Africa’s businesses urged to manage water usage

by Alf James, April 19 2013
SOUTH Africa will run dry by 2050 should no action be taken to conserve water, according to Gareth Lloyd-Jones, MD of Ecowize.

He says it is crucial for businesses to introduce elements of strict control through implementations of water saving disciplines, as water will always be a basic necessity.

Rip Wyma, MD at Shared Energy Management, a Johnson Controls partner, agrees, saying the increasing scarcity of water as a resource coupled with escalating costs means that businesses need to become more mindful of water consumption, or else face the consequences of literally pouring money down the drain.

He says as populations have increased and nations have become more industrialised across the globe, water as a resource is becoming increasingly scarce.

“This is a problem across the world, as highlighted in Creamer Media’s Water 2012: A review of South Africa’s water sector, which states that according to estimates by the UN Environmental Programme, “failure to adequately invest in water services and to collect, treat and reuse water efficiently … is exacerbating water shortages in parts of the world and contributing to a situation where global demand for water could outstrip supply within 20 years”.

Says Mr Wyma: “This is a global trend of which South Africa is also a part, with multiple issues surrounding water. First, we have limited natural water supplies, and already import some of our water from the Lesotho highlands.

“As a country we have also experienced huge growth in the past few decades, which is putting strain on our limited water resources. Clean drinking water is a luxury in many parts of the country, and as society becomes more urbanised, demand increases and supply cannot keep up.

“These challenges are compounded by ailing infrastructure, haphazard infrastructure development which has resulted in sewerage finding its way into ground water, and other issues such as mine drainage creating contaminated acid water underground.”

Mr Wyma predicts that water is going to become increasingly expensive over time.

“If organisations continue with wasteful water practices, it will become less and less affordable. The effects are being felt even now, with water in Johannesburg costing up to three times as much as water in Pretoria. The challenge lies in recognising this as a cost that can be reduced and in taking steps to reduce water consumption, eliminate wastage and apply the right type of water to the right situation.”

Mr Lloyd-Jones says more people need to make the effort to recycle water and come up with other innovative ways to save and protect natural water resources.

He says there is a critical need for businesses to realise the magnitude of this crisis, to take responsibility, to make concerted efforts to recycle water and to prevent water wastage often caused by pipe bursts, water leaks and unscheduled use of water.

“Cost-effective water saving disciplines include having a water recycling system in place whereby used water is drained through a filtration process to rid all solids and then put through a chemical intervention to make it suitable to use back into plant facilities.”

Mr Lloyd-Jones says companies should introduce universal benchmarks to set the right amount of water required for jobs, without any wastage.

“This can be achieved via three important variables — the value, the pressure and the temperature of the water. These variables need to be balanced and measured.”

Furthermore, he says to avoid unscheduled use of water, food producers and manufacturers need to introduce strict elements of control that set aside specific times that apparatuses such as hoses can be used. They can also use specially designed couplings that are manufactured to protect the hose against leaks.

Mr Lloyd-Jones says food producers and manufacturers will also be able to save enormous amounts of water by providing staff with water-saving training to enable them to identify the cause of water waste and ways to solve such problems.

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