With Day Zero now firmly in the back of our minds, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that we’ve returned to “business as usual” in Cape Town, but the reality is very different. Behind the scenes, many companies have invested heavily in alternative water technologies, some have moved completely off the municipal water grid and others are planning to do the same in the near future.
Residents have been praised widely for helping to avoid Day Zero, and rightly so, as water use in residential homes accounts for the bulk of the water usage in the City. The fact that Cape Town became the first City in the world to halve its water usage in the space of three years is something the world praised us for. Our relationship with water has changed fundamentally, and this is reflected in the collective consumption figures hovering around the 550 million litres per day mark, down from a high of over 1 billion litres.
The private sector has proven itself to be a major force in the drive to become water resilient, and while the authorities plan various water augmentation schemes, big business has come to the party, pro-actively changing the way they manage water.
Recently, 14 ‘Water Stars’ were recognised for best practices in water management, conservation and pollution control – not only in the business sector, but also in government departments, education and health institutions, and residential estates. It forms part of the City’s Water Star Rating Certification. It’s an acknowledgement that strong partnerships have been forged between the City and the private sector, which helped Cape Town get through the drought and ensures wise use of water over the long term.
Astroenergy, Virgin Active Constantia, SAB Newlands, Old Mutual, Vector Logistics Solutions, BG Servers, Finlar Foods, First Rand Group, Portside Body Corporate, Vital Health Foods, TraX Interconnect, Aerosol and Cosmetics and Juno Corporation South Africa were all honoured.
The certification is also a motivator for all organisations to implement sustainable water management, because who wants to support a water-guzzling company?
Cape Town’s flagship conferencing and event centre, the CTICC, has really set an excellent example. Their water saving initiatives have resulted in a 30% saving of water over the past financial year alone. Building on this success, the CTICC has now commissioned its own reverse osmosis plant.
The plant will draw underground seawater using ultra filtration and reverse osmosis technology that removes the salt and contaminants from the water, turning it into potable drinking water. 200 000 litres can be produced by the CTICC plant in any 24-hour cycle, and additional storage tanks with a capacity of 400 000 litres will allow the centre to cater for “potential maximum demand” scenarios. And we know they get busy. Eventually, the CTICC will be able to offer 100% water-neutral events.
There are so many businesses that have realised that being water-savvy also makes business sense in the long run. Well done to all our Water Stars. May your actions inspire many more to do the same.