South Africa is one of the 30 driest countries in the world, but relatively few local companies have a formal management plan in place to tackle water-related issues.
This is among the results of field research contained in the latest edition of "The Environmental Handbook: A Guide to Green Business in South Africa", launched in Cape Town this week.
The research sample comprised 100 major corporates, drawn from a database of publicly listed and large unlisted companies.
"It is disturbing to note that, despite our water challenges, 42 percent of respondents indicated that they have no specific policy on water management and a further 19 percent had a formal policy, but no action plans.
"In other words, 61 percent of the sample did not seem to have a formal mandate to manage their consumption and use of water."
Companies must monitor water consumption
The handbook says responsible water management requires companies to monitor their water consumption closely, and to put in place efficiency and savings measures to reduce consumption in their buildings, plant, equipment, appliances and production processes.
"Special attention should be paid to water treatment and recycling possibilities.
Where relevant, companies should also pay attention to management and conservation of freshwater resources within their sphere of influence, such as watersheds and catchments." (Sapa, August 2010)