The National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA) aims to strengthen implementation of its Industrial Water Efficiency (IWE) project and move towards the adoption of best practices and water efficient technologies to improve performance, says NCPC-SA IWE project lead Kevin Cilliers.
Through the IWE project, the NCPC-SA addresses the need for skills and solutions to reduce the use of and reuse available water supplies. Companies can apply for free water assessments and assistance when implementing water efficiency at their plants.
The project recorded its first actual savings of 89 000 kℓ early last year, which amounted to R2.2-million, through a case study at a chicken abattoir at consumer goods company RCL Foods in Rustenburg, in the North West.
The assessment started in March 2017 and was concluded during May 2017. The assessment involved a detailed analysis of the water use in the facility and included the development of a water balance for the site. The water balance helped to identify where water was being used, how much and what unit operations were responsible for the consumption, and to determine how water consumption could be reduced.
Several measures were identified and implemented, including the installation of shut-off valves at the evisceration section, upgrading of the cleaning water system to reduce the amount of water required as well as water efficiency awareness training and briefings.
Over the two years of the IWE project, sixteen sites have been assessed, with nine sites concluded between April 2018 and April 2019.
Since the start of the IWE project, the NCPC-SA has realised actual savings for industry of about 310 000 kℓ. “To contextualise this, it would equate to supplying about 840 homes with water for a year,” Cilliers advances.
However, he points out that the implementation of identified measures remains a challenge, largely owing to the perception that water efficiency measures require significant investment and, with the current water pricing structure, does not always yield a viable business case or payback period. However, the savings at RCL Foods were achieved with minimal investment, largely funded through the existing general maintenance budgets and offering almost immediate payback to the company.
The NCPC-SA is a technical partner in the South Africa – Danish Strategic Sector Cooperation Partnership on Water and Cilliers tells Engineering News that South Africa and Denmark are in the final stages of negotiating the extension of the partnership for a further three years.
The centre has aligned its proposed activities for the 2019/20 financial year starting in April, with the partnership. Over the next year, it is expected to combine the current assessment activities with research to identify the water-intensive sectors in South Africa and develop guideline documents on how to apply and implement water-use efficiency practices and techniques in selected sites, he advances.
He states that the NCPC-SA will continue to provide assistance with the implementation of identified measures by linking companies to possible government incentives for funding or by providing technical assistance with further feasibility analyses where intensive capital or technical investment is required.
Moreover, case studies will continue to be developed where implementation has been successful to verify the impact of the measures taken and use as a marketing tool on the benefits of adopting water-use efficiency practices and techniques.
Cilliers points out that capacity building remains key to the IWE project, with emphasis placed on upskilling public officials at national and provincial government level, as well as at local municipalities to create an enabling environment to promote dialogue between industry and local authorities to facilitate working towards a common cause.
As part of embedding water efficiency into an organisational culture, the NCPC-SA offers training and awareness modules for the sites it assesses to disseminate knowledge across the organisations as part of its skills development programme.
Following two water workshops that the NCPC-SA hosted last year as part of the IWE project, involving key stakeholders from government, industry and the water specialist fraternity, the organisation identified knowledge gaps, requiring training material to be developed.
Some areas identified were water reuse, innovative closed loop solutions, water chemistry and quality, industrial water management and utility wastewater treatment.
Subsequently, the NCPC-SA recently revamped its resource efficient and cleaner production expert level training module to incorporate most of the identified concepts and elements. This is being rolled out through the NCPC-SA’s regional offices in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, Cilliers notes.
“It is expected that, once feedback is received on the revised water components, attention will be on developing more focused, specific water-use efficiency training modules on selected specialist topics,” he concludes.