Great water savings realised with water-consumption reducing system

15th March 2013 By: Sashnee Moodley - Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

Based on its operations, it is a priority for car rental company Europcar to assess its organisational activities and identify areas where its environmental impact could be reduced, says Europcar CEO Dawn Nathan-Jones.

As a result, the company has invested in the eWasha water- recycling system and has had massive savings since implementing the first bay in 2010.

The company has installed the system at all of its main vehicle-turnaround facilities, including those at the King Shaka International Airport in Kwa-Zulu-Natal, Port Elizabeth International Airport, in the Eastern Cape, OR Tambo Inter-national Airport, in Gauteng, as well as Cape Town International Airport and George Airport, in the Western Cape.

The eWasha is a chemical-free, biological treatment, water- recycling system that comprises a series of bioreactors made from plastic tanks and pumps.

About 5 000 Europcar vehicles are cleaned daily in the wash bay. The used water is discharged through a floor drain into the eWasha system’s sand, oil and grease traps, after which, it is pumped through its bioreactors.

The eWasha uses a hydraulic system, which involves using bacteria to clean and filter the water without the use of chemicals.

About 20% of the used water is lost to spillage and evaporation and the cleaned water is returned to the high-pressure washers for reuse and can be topped up by either municipal supply or stored rainwater.

The eWasha system is modular and can be upgraded or relocated easily, if needed.

“Europcar is able to recycle water using the system and collects its own rainwater to reduce the use of municipal water. The greywater is not released into the sewerage network which carries sewage to wastewater-treatment works for a municipality,” says Nathan-Jones.

Europcar estimates the accum- ulated water saving since incep- tion of the project up to June 2012 to be just under 100 000 kof water.

Between July and December 2012, the recycling at the company’s major depots resulted in a saving of almost 29.5-million litres of water.

“Europcar needed to imple- ment a system that would effectively reduce its water consumption and ensure a measurable difference to its water use. The eWasha system has proven to be indispensible – not only in reducing the company’s water consumption but also its operational costs,” she states.

Nathan-Jones says as a result, South African industries need to play a more active role in the reduc- tion of their water consumption – even more so if businesses use large quantities of water.
According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, South Africa is considered a semi-arid, water-scarce country and the mean yearly rainfall of 4 909 mm, of which only 9% is converted to river runoff, is half the world average.

She adds that National Water Week, from March 18 to 24, is a great opportunity to highlight some of the activities the company’s operations engage in to reduce water consumption and recycle used water.