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Business sector ramping up water-saving initiatives

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From left are VWSA’s project team members for the wastewater facility, Nick Chapman, Hermann Ferreira, Manfred Gie, Gerhardt Goosen and Cibin Mathew. Photo: DAVID DETTMANN
From left are VWSA’s project team members for the wastewater facility, Nick Chapman, Hermann Ferreira, Manfred Gie, Gerhardt Goosen and Cibin Mathew. Photo: DAVID DETTMANN

The business sector in Nelson Mandela Bay is ramping up its water-saving initiatives, helping to accelerate the repair of leaks, and supporting humanitarian efforts as the dams supplying the metro continue to dip to historically low levels.

This comes at a time when the city is deepening its efforts to prevent Day Zero by encouraging residents and businesses to reduce their water consumption from 285 MLD to 230 MLD per day.

Many Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber member companies have been coordinating their efforts by installing rainwater harvesting tanks, drilling boreholes, and prioritising sustainable practices in their daily operations through water recycling measures where feasible.

However, the huge backlog of over 3 000 water leaks which account for approximately 29% of the metro’s water losses remain a huge challenge for the city and as such, the chamber has launched a series of initiatives to urgently respond to this.

One of these is the Adopt a Leak initiative, which is a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, and serves as an extension to current efforts to rein in the number of leaks across the metro.

“This is a targeted intervention and is focused on key areas where there is a high concentration of leaks, said chamber CEO, Denise van Huyssteen.

“A similar concept to this is the chamber’s Adopt a School initiative which has been running for more than a year and aims at reducing the 10% contribution of schools to the metro’s water leaks challenge. Local businesses are supporting schools and clinics with plumbing maintenance and repairing leaks, as well as providing alternative water solutions such as rainwater tanks and boreholes.

“In addition to these targeted interventions, it is vital that businesses and consumers address leaks at their own operations and premises. The leaks are not just concentrated on visible municipal infrastructure but are also prevalent within our own businesses and homes,” she said.

Companies such as Aspen, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), Continental Tyre South Africa, Coega Development Corporation, Cerebos, Isuzu South Africa, Sovereign Foods, and Volkswagen South Africa, have all taken the matter into their own hands by pivoting their water consumption habits to help avert the water crisis.

This show of commitment bodes well for the metro as it rallies residents and businesses to drastically reduce their daily water consumption to prolong the city’s water supply.

CCBSA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Gift of Givers, which will see the beverage bottling company’s monster truck support the foundation with the distribution of water to struggling communities in the Bay.

The company will also be donating 20 x 5 000l Jojo tanks which will be placed at identified water collection points around the city.

In addition, 500 water wheelers will be distributed to communities to aid with water collection and storage. As part of a medium-term plan, Cokeville, an off-grid solar powered ground water harvesting, and treatment project aimed at offsetting the increasing water insecurity in South Africa, will come on stream.

Nine new systems are planned for the region with a minimum annual potential of replenishing 90 million litres per annum.

“We are committed to supporting residents of Nelson Mandela Bay as part of our broader water crisis relief and assistance plan.

“This includes working with Gift of the Givers and other stakeholders to deliver water to vulnerable and distressed communities.

“In addition, CCBSA is implementing a six-point plan that is directed towards securing alternative water supply sources to minimise societal impact.

“These plans include the deployment of three Cokevilles with nine systems which will be rolled out in the municipality and come online in August,” said Nozicelo Ngcobo, public affairs, communication and sustainability director at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa.

Cerebos, the market leader in the retail salt market in South Africa with extended distribution into Southern Africa, has partnered with the Gift of Givers Foundation and has availed up to 500 000l per day of desalinated water for tanker collections.

Cerebos managing director, John Drinkwater, said they have offered this capacity to Gift of the Givers at no charge to support interim emergency measures as he is confident this water will find its way to those who desperately need it.

“We have offered the organisation our Halo 5l bottles at no cost for short emergency supply. We will also donate 5000 x 5l bottles of Halo 5l Bottles.

“Furthermore, I am also trying to open a 5l water drive-through in Newton Park, where consumers can order 5l water online and then collect in drive-through fashion,” said Drinkwater.

Spar Eastern Cape has also come on board and will be donating 20 Jojo tanks and is further offering businesses an opportunity to procure a 5 250l water tank at a discounted cost of R4 000 ex VAT per tank.

Isuzu is harvesting rainwater for flushing their ablutions in areas too remote to use their treated effluent water.

Currently, the water tanks have 60 000l of water and at full capacity, they will have 160 000.

The harvested water is also collected for the filling of their water-test facility, as well as topping up the fire dam.

The effluent streams coming from the processes are treated in the company’s water treatment plant before leaving the site.

This water is further treated, stored, and re-used to supply flushing water for around 80% of its ablutions.

As a major step on the road to zero impact production, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has implemented two projects to dramatically reduce the environmental footprint of its Kariega plant.

The first project is a wastewater recycling facility, which has been constructed on-site at the plant.

This facility will recycle production-related wastewater from various production areas, for reuse in certain production processes.

In addition to reducing the company’s freshwater consumption by an estimated 26%, it will also serve to reduce VWSA’s reliance on municipally supplied water amid the ongoing drought in the region.

“As with our colleagues across the Volkswagen Group, we are committed to protecting the environment in whatever way we can,” said Ulrich Schwabe, production director at VWSA.

It is vital that public facing businesses which attract a lot of foot traffic, such as shopping centres, drive water-saving initiatives and awareness. To this end, the Greenacres and Cleary Park Shopping Centres have also installed water tanks at their premises to catch rainwater to supplement their supply.

Van Huyssteen has commended the businesses for their swift interventions, indicating that this will go a long way in mitigating the risks associated with the water crisis.

“We would like to appeal to businesses to support our Adopt a School and Adopt a Leak initiatives, as well as humanitarian efforts.

“Gift of the Givers is making incredible progress in a short space of time ensuring communities have access to water, but they still need hundreds more tanks and also the donation of pumps would be welcome,” said Van Huyssteen.

– ISSUED BY NELSON MANDELA BAY BUSINESS CHAMBER
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