Think loadshedding is bad for business? Wait till your taps run dry
23 October 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201916876
AN unreliable, increasingly costly electricity supply is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, thanks to the recent return of load shedding. But businesses should brace themselves for a similar scenario when it comes to water.
That was a key message to emerge from two seminars hosted recently by Pietermaritzburg-based Talbot, a provider of sustainable water and wastewater solutions, to update current and potential clients on the water risks facing South African business and opportunities to manage them using industry 4.0 technology.
Held in Johannesburg and Durban, the seminars attracted representatives of major players from a wide range of sectors who all share a common interest, namely, water. These include, among others, mining and metals, food and beverages, forestry, pulp and paper, healthcare, fast moving consumer goods and cosmetics.
Talbot strategic director Helen Hulett outlined the severity of the water risk which, in certain instances, is already impacting industry.
“If your production and revenue hasn’t been negatively affected in some way by water, it will be in the short term,” she said, explaining how the condition of local water provision structures is arguably far worse and more difficult to rectify than our electricity supply.
Hulett went on to emphasise the fact that South Africa is a water scarce country – ranked 30th in the world for baseline water stress – which will only be exacerbated with the onset of predicted climate change.
This in itself, however, is by no means the sole contributor to short and medium-term water risk as rapidly growing industrial, commercial and domestic demand for the resource continues to escalate the crisis.
“In 1994, just 59% of households had access to safe, clean water. By 2015 this had greatly improved to 86%, meaning that 20 years later 8.5 million more households are now consuming water.”
In complete contrast to the rise in offtake, supply infrastructure is in a dire state of disrepair and lacks the skills necessary to be operated efficiently.
“Current statistics show that 44% of water and 56% of wastewater treatment plants are in a critical condition and that 11% of water treatment works are dysfunctional. The bottom line is that the water coming out of many of taps is not fit for human consumption, something which will certainly not improve in the short term,” she said.
As things stand, the water deficit the country could face by 2030 might amount to between 2.7 and 3.8 billion m³.
Talbot helps its clients to understand and mitigate their water risks and protect the sustainability of their businesses by analysing and assessing their water use and developing tailored solutions.
Chief executive officer Carl Haycock describes how Talbot puts the ‘art of water’ into practice.
“Our approach to delivering the best value for clients is to ensure that we deliver bespoke solutions to address their specific challenges while supporting their longer-term strategy drivers. Talbot is not actually aligned to particular technologies but rather identifies and proposes the most suitable and robust solution for a particular situation.”
To help clients manage the growing risk, Talbot has developed a number of services that are designed to harness the power of big data to drive resource optimisation and business profitability and sustainability. These services are encompassed in TalbotAnalytics, a web-based analytics application which generates simple, yet high value analytics that direct change.
The seminars’ impact can be judged by the reception they received. In both KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg, the lion’s share of companies represented, including a significant number of major corporate entities, requested private briefing sessions for their internal management teams.
Since its establishment in 1989, Talbot has provided sustainable water and wastewater solutions in over 300 projects across more than 25 African countries, the Indian Ocean islands, Australasia and eastern Europe.