Each drop counts
People tend to take water for granted, yet we can’t work or live without it … And water is becoming increasingly scarce in South Africa, with its security being at risk for all users.
Lean Strauss, Sasol senior group executive for international energy, new business development and technology, points out: “Responding to this risk is a business imperative that Sasol is determined to meet head on.”
Henri Loubser, managing director of Sasol New Energy, explains: “To deliver on this mandate Sasol New Energy established a dedicated sustainable water function called Sasol Water Sense. This means that we will focus all our activities in Sasol to improve our efficient use of water at all our manufacturing and production facilities.”
However, he adds that it goes beyond that, as it also involves the broader communities around Sasol’s production facilities in Sasolburg and Secunda. “As a large industrial user of water, we are committed to helping communities reduce their water consumption.” But talk is cheap.
“Our work, together with the Department of Basic Education in the Free State, the Department of Water Affairs and the Water Research Commission, aims to educate communities regarding the importance of water conservation as well as improve water treatment technologies and the reuse of water in South Africa,” Loubser points out.
One programme, held in conjunction with the Emfuleni Municipality, has saved enough water to fill 750 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the past year. This could supply 5 454 households with water for a year, at 25 000 litres each month.
With the help of Sasol, the savings were achieved after newly trained community education and plumbing teams visited 49 000 households to teach them water saving techniques and to repair leaks – showing that the company is willing to walk the talk.
Another company that’s taking water conservation to heart is Imperial Cargo Solutions, which is part of the Imperial Logistics group. As part of its Carbon Footprint Reduction Initiative, phase one of the project began with a focus on reducing the company’s electricity consumption through the retrofitting of lights. Phase two of the initiative saw the installation of a wash bay water treatment plant that works in a quirky way …
“This plant consists of two five-kilolitre bioreactors (commonly known as jojo containers) and one five-kilolitre storage tank,” explains Steven Smith, managing director of Imperial Cargo Solutions, “It was designed to cater for the washing of 15 to 18 large vehicles per day. Two five-kilolitre rainwater harvesting tanks were also installed for top-up purposes.”
The quirky part of this plant is its cleaning system. “The jojo containers are bacteria-powered,” quips Smith. “Inside the containers we have strategically hung plastic bottles, on which naturally occurring bacteria forms from aeration. The water is cleaned as it flows through the bacteria – just like the bacteria against rocks in a natural stream would do.” He adds that the water is, therefore, recycled through this process, without the use of any chemicals or additives, and conforms to the world standard for wash bay water.
To date, the water plant has provided a total of 286 144 litres of recycled water to the wash bay. “This translates to a 64 percent saving over the last four months at the wash bay plant,” Smith points out. “We forecast annual water savings of 85 percent by March 2014.”
But that’s not all. For the fifth month since the commissioning of the water treatment plant it has shown a 100 percent harvest of recycled water with no municipal top-up necessary.
So, with our most precious commodity dwindling, it is reassuring to see that companies are taking their corporate social responsibility projects the water way and making each drop count.