Increased awareness of the importance of water conservation and an enhanced sensitisation to practices that can facilitate it are some of the most effective means of eliciting a positive response to the drive to see that water efficiency practices are adopted in South Africa’s industrial settings, says National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC-SA) KwaZulu-Natal regional manager Kevin Cilliers.
In line with this, the NCPC-SA will roll out its Industrial Water Efficiency Project this year, which aims to transform industry’s approach to water use through the adoption of a systematic and holistic approach to water management.
Cilliers stresses that water efficiency need not necessarily involve capital-intensive initiatives. He recommends starting with optimising existing systems and operations and selecting options that are easy to implement. Moreover, he notes the importance of adequate monitoring and measurement in the organisation to fully understand the extent of water use and water disposal in each operation.
“It is key that water efficiency implementation be considered a team effort and not a lone crusade. Buy-in from all sectors and from all levels in an organisation is, thus, imperative.”
Cilliers explains that conceptualisation of the Industrial Water Efficiency Project was largely possible, owing to the engagement between various stakeholders from the private sector and government.
The NCPC-SA’s project consists of six components that address various aspects of implementing water efficiency initiatives, thereby hoping to ensure a holistic approach to managing water in industry.
The first component aims to ensure that the policy landscape in South Africa is conducive to supporting water efficiency initiatives, with NCPC-SA activities informing and guiding Department of Water and Sanitation strategy development and policy.
The second component involves establishing national and international standards for water management by industry and promoting the adoption thereof. Cilliers highlights that this will entail the development of a standardised water assessment methodology and management system that can be adopted by industry and key water- sector stakeholders.
The third component is focused on the development of relevant skills to support the implementation of water efficiency measures. It involves training a foundation of field experts who can promote greater awareness of water efficiency initiatives and ensure these are successfully parachuted in to industry.
The fourth component entails the NCPC-SA’s offering support to plants through the piloting of the implementation of water efficiency measures. Cilliers notes that the proposed format is to assess pilot sites as clusters and support and share learning among them in a programme involving workshops and on-site implementation guidance. These plants will also be used as examples that can demonstrate the benefits of water efficiency to industry.
The fifth component comprises the NCPC-SA’s delivering focused advocacy and awareness campaigns to promote the adoption of water efficiency. This will entail creating heightened awareness about water efficiency, legislative obligations affecting industry and the results of the pilot plants. The NCPC-SA will use media awareness initiatives and direct industry engagement to reach stakeholders and recruit more sites for participation in the previously mentioned component.
The final component will involve monitoring and evaluating the impact of the project.