Professional services firm WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa have shifted focus to advising clients within the private sector to focus on their water strategies in order to sustainably manage water resources while lowering operational costs.
WSP have assisted companies such as private hospital network Netcare with its water management system across operations, while the company assisted sugar producer Illovo improve water management across its African operational base.
According to WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff environment and energy Africa associate Elan Theeboom, WSP audited Illovo’s facilities in Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania.
“We’ve also worked with another sugar producer Tongaat Hulett and audited their facility in Zimbabwe so as to advise them on their water strategy across their operations. Additionally, WSP will also be working with a company in the South African pharmaceuticals industry,” Theeboom notes.
WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff development, transportation and infrastructure for Africa technical director Leon Saunders adds that the private sector is regularly serviced by WSP, and the company has provided consulting to several projects recently.
“Some of the more recent projects we have worked on include Riversands, Waterfall in Kyalami, Forrest Hill in Centurion and Mushroom Farm in Sandton, where WSP has worked with developers on expanding the storm water management plans and assisted with the water-use licence applications,” Saunders notes.
Furthermore, he mentions some of the public-sector projects which have recently been completed by WSP. These include consulting in the 100 Mℓ Contermanskloof reservoir for the City of Cape Town, as well as involvement in the 3.5 Mℓ/d Noupoort borehole water supply scheme for Umsobomvu municipality near Colesburg, in the Northern Cape.
“The project in Noupoort required us to include ten local learner contracts as well as focusing on labour-intensive construction, geohydrological investigation and the use of water-use licence applications,” Saunders says.
He adds that WSP’s reach also extends across borders as the company has provided specialist consultancy for design reviews, changes, tender evaluations and mechanical construction monitoring for the 14 Mℓ/d Thune dam regional water supply scheme as well as for the 30 Mℓ/d extensions to the Lobatse water supply scheme in Botswana.
“WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa has a long and proud track record for servicing the public and private sectors in South Africa and into Africa,” he states.
Theeboom states that, although concerted efforts are made to protect water resources of both public and private institutions, entities should still consider water footprinting as part of corporate water risk management.
“Water footprinting is a useful tool as part of corporate water risk management, as it simply tells you where your water is being used. This encompasses whether the water is being used upstream of the business in the supply chain, or downstream among customers, or within direct operations as well as where the water comes from and what it’s being used for,” he states.
However, Theeboom warns that this information is only useful should businesses make use of the information to protect operations.
“If the business water supply chain is suddenly influenced by water shortages that can severely impact on business and, likewise, if the corporate is developing products or services that are highly water intensive, then those regions where their customers are located may also be hit by water risks. This again could impact on the business, so, while understanding that the business’s water footprint is very important, it is only because it forms part of a broader water risk management strategy,” he states.
Saunders notes that water should not be seen in isolation, as impacts from other water basins can be felt into several basins surrounding it, or even further, if the transfer of water from one area to another is taken into account.
“It is of upmost importance that the Department of Water and Sanitation, as the water custodian of South Africa, have a master plan for the use of water. This plan must be a compilation of the various Water Services Development Plans (WSDPs) of all the municipalities in the country. Water is also only the first half of the cycle and; the second half – namely wastewater and the appropriate management thereof – is an integral part of the complete life cycle,” he states.
He notes that wastewater must be treated and placed back into the cycle.
“The effect of this must also be taken into account in the WSDPs, as well as the effect of moving water from one water basin to another,” Saunders concludes.