Drought is becoming the new norm in South Africa and many other African countries, threatening the water supply on which industry, as well as every community, depends.
The good news is that a host of new tools are becoming available to help businesses ensure that their taps don’t run dry. These include a free and confidential water assessment offered by the Water Efficiency Project of the National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC), a project of the South African Department of Trade and Industry.
This assessment comes with a cost-benefit analysis, and experience shows that improved water efficiency often helps improve a company’s bottom line, says Kevin Cilliers, a spokesperson for the water project.
The NCPC’s mission is to drive cleaner and resource-efficient production, while helping businesses to operate in a more efficient, sustainable and competitive manner. The organisation also offers subsidised energy, materials and waste assessments.
The water assessments are the newest, and were first offered at the start of this year. They help companies look at where and why they are using water; opportunities to reduce usage; low and no-cost interventions, and finally more capital-intensive solutions. Implementation is not mandatory, although it is of course recommended, and subsequent training is also offered, to build a company’s water-management capacity.
Many companies, some of them very large, have benefited from the water audits, says Kevin. In just one example, water was a “massive risk” for a metal product manufacturer, whose supply once dried up for several days. This company is now able to operate “off-grid”, supplying its own water in emergencies.
Another measure for ensuring your water supply is the comprehensive “toolbox”, offered by the United Nations Global Compact, which outlines a series of steps to take along with a wealth of information (http://ceowatermandate.org/toolbox/discover-next-steps).
Dolphin Bay has taken huge strides in our efforts to reduce our reliance on the municipal water supply. We harvest almost all the water we need for manufacturing at our Mossel Bay factory, and reuse all the washing and rinsing water at our Sabie factory.
We also monitor our water usage continuously. Our staff members report on the water usage in their departments at our weekly meetings, helping to make us more conscious of how much water our business is using. “If there are great fluctuations, we examine whether this is due to increases in production, or inefficiencies,” says Bertus.
“In the past, water was cheap and the supply plentiful, so we used it without thinking. The cost of water was not built into the final cost of a product. However, this is the wrong approach.
Paraphrasing a speaker at a National Business Event focusing on water last year, he concluded: “Water does not have a cost until we do not have it. At that point, it becomes invaluable.”
To find out more about the free water assessments, contact your Dolphin Bay representative.