Joint industrial water efficiency activities count every drop and make every drop count

30th March 2017

The National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA) will announce plans on the NCPC-SA Industrial Water Efficiency Project during a workshop to be hosted by the Royal Danish Embassy on 30 March 2017. The focus of the workshop will be on prevailing water quantity and quality challenges and sustainable methods to address these, drawing from a collaborative partnership concluded between the Kingdom of Denmark and the South African government.

The workshop is aimed primarily at companies in two traditionally water-intense sub-sectors – dairies and poultry producers. The programme, hosted by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, will include the presentation of research into water use in these sectors by the Water Research Commission (WRC) and case studies from small and large companies.

Dry weather conditions and persistent drought, have had a dramatic effect on South Africa’s water supply. Water shortages have resulted in nearly all nine provinces being subjected to severe water restrictions, with significant effects on the operations of many agricultural and industrial producers.

Whilst recent rainfall, specifically in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal has brought temporary relief in relation with the country-wide and forward-looking situation, a long-term water efficiency view is necessary to strengthen South African resilience and preparedness.

Kevin Cilliers, NCPC-SA Regional Manager for KwaZulu-Natal and leader of the Industrial Water Efficiency Project, says, “Industry has a vital role to play in both improving and benefiting from water efficiency. The rising demand and diminishing supplies of water require more careful and conservative management of this vital resource. The availability of enough quality water is becoming a significant constraint – not only in supporting economic growth but also to provide potable water at an affordable cost for growing urban populations.”

South Africa needs both enough water and good quality water. “An abundance of water is worth little without having it in good enough quality for use in industrial processing as well as to fulfil its ultimate purpose as drinking water,” Cilliers adds.

Danish and NCPC-SA partnership details

About the partnership, Cilliers explains, “Denmark is an experienced partner. The Bilateral Water Partnership between the Kingdom of Denmark and South Africa through the Department of Water and Sanitation creates the ideal opportunity to draw from experiences and lessons learnt relating to water efficiency in industry. This workshop is one of a series of targeted activities in the partnership.

We are targeting selected strategic industrial water users in South Africa to unpack the current trends, needs and constraints within industry to inform the partnership regarding planned interventions as well as provide the NCPC-SA the opportunity to share the proposed plans for its’ recently launched Industrial Water Efficiency Project.”

The workshop will also discuss policy drivers for change, business risks and training needs and the outcomes will inform the direction of the industry water agenda in South Africa. While the Industrial Water Efficiency Project targets several industries, this workshop will focus on the agro processing industry.

NCPC-SA Industrial Water Efficiency Project details

The IWE Project operating model has been based on the NCPC-SA’s very successful Industrial Energy Efficiency Project, which helped save industry R1.7 billion’s worth of energy in five years.

“One of the lessons we have learnt through the energy project, is that resource efficiency initiatives need not necessarily be capital intensive. When starting out, we take industries through a comprehensive assessment process to identify where water is being used, why and what opportunities may exist to optimise the current systems and operations, before launching into more capital intensive options.

Obviously monitoring and measurement remain key to understanding water use trends and patterns and extensive effort is being placed on assisting companies to understand this well. Our theory is: you cannot manage what you don’t measure,” Cilliers continues.

Since 2016, the NCPC-SA, through water-focused assessments, has saved the South African industry 63 600 kL water. This is a financial saving of R760 000 with a calculated pay-back period of two months. Interventions through the NCPC-SA’s internship component of the project realised a further reduction in water consumption of 75 010 kL, equating to bottom-line savings of R 1 462 706, with a pay-back period of less than four months. This shows there is a business case to be made for industry. 

Cilliers concludes, “Water efficiency implementation must be considered a team effort and not a lone crusade. Buy-in from all sectors and from all levels in an organisation is imperative to making it work. The Industrial Water Efficiency workshop emphasises this as well as the many benefits likely to occur on an economic, environmental and social front, through effective implementation of water efficiency interventions.”