It is no secret that water scarcity is not going away soon; in fact, it is just getting worse.
With a growing global population (currently netting around 120 000 people per day — this is births less deaths), the demand for potable water is increasing daily.
In 1975, water scarcity was limited to a small number of countries in North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. By 2000, water scarcity had spread to many large and densely populated countries in Asia.
In South Africa, we have moved from being a water-stressed country to a water-scarce country, and we are currently the 30th driest country in the world. Predictions are that by 2025, South Africa will form part of the ‘extreme scarcity’ category.
“Investing in water security is the wisest investment you can ever make under the circumstances. You can only do this effectively by understanding and managing your demand,” says Gerrie Brink, founder of #SurplusWater2025.
With over 100 commercial property sites currently being monitored and managed as case studies, some of which have been running for more than two years, the results have already proven to be remarkable with most sites seeing a water savings of at least half of the original consumption. This has been achieved by creating solutions around efficiency, fixing leaks timeously, and reducing demand. This not only saves our precious potable water, but it is a massive saving on costs that can essentially be transferred to tenants, making these properties more sustainable in the long run.
Brink, who has used these case studies for his master’s dissertation, says, “The reality is that we don’t have to keep trying to re-invent the wheel. If we turn our water situation upside down, and focus on demand, as opposed to supply, it is possible to reduce the demand, which is a realistic solution to our water crisis. We should stop looking for alternative sources to supply an inefficient demand network. First lower the demand, then only look at alternative source to supply a leaner demand. Once this has been realised, we can start to look at smaller pipe sizes and lower supply pressure systems, since high pressures increase the number of pipe bursts, as well as the effect of leaks in a deteriorating supply network. Lower demand will further benefit things such as our wastewater treatment plants that are already so overloaded that their function cannot be sustained, since less waste is generated and these facilities can then work effectively.”
The whole objective of #SurplusWater2025 is to get as many companies and people involved as possible, because our water security is everyone’s responsibility — and therefore everyone should actually be involved. “There are no individual companies through this initiative that stand to benefit above another — it’s not an opportunity to punt your company or product, and this is why I chose the name, which is all about what we want to achieve. Also, this initiative operates as a totally separate entity and the idea is that companies will want to be a part of it because the goal is more important than any individual company,” says Brink.
So, how does this work?
You may be wondering how it can be possible to turn this around to have surplus water by 2025? Well, it’s really as simple as steps 1, 2, 3 ...
Step 1: Know your history
By analysing historical water consumption, the historical average daily consumption is calculated. The demand of any facility cannot be fully understood by only taking meter readings on a monthly basis, since this only provides a snapshot of total demand. This provides a baseline from where the reduction in demand will be measured.
Step 2: Continuously monitor consumption
By installing an automatic meter reading (AMR) device on your main incoming line, the demand profile becomes much clearer, highlighting leaks and night-flows.
Step 3: Reduce the demand
The focus moves to improving efficiency. This is done by optimising irrigation, rectifying leaks, analysing cooling systems, and then auditing sites for other leaks and inefficiencies. Replace tap aerators and toilet flushing mechanisms with patented toilet outlet valves to significantly reduce consumption further. Research shows that toilets consume more than 50% of water in any commercial building, with all other aspects influencing demand, in check.
Some of the products and applications we apply to improve efficiency are:
• Optimise irrigation for specific landscape
• Leak detection and monitoring
• Site-wide audit on all water endpoints — showers, taps, geysers, water features, cooling towers
• Patented toilet flushing mechanism
• Tap aerators that can reduce tap demand by up to 97%.
How to get involved
• Register your company or business on surpluswater2025.com and join a community of consumers and suppliers to make a difference.
• A representative will contact you to assist in applying the steps from accredited suppliers.
• Reduction in demand will be shown on the website to track progress towards #SurplusWater2025.
• You will be allowed to use the #SurplusWater2025 trademarks on your building and any communications and marketing.
Skills development opportunity
As part of #SurplusWater2025, SETA-accredited training on efficiency and behavioural changes is available and this contributes towards you B-BBEE scorecard. Although this is a direct benefit, it gets all stakeholders involved and excited about participating in water savings. For example, creating a level of awareness gives a security guard, cleaner, or any office worker a sense of participation and accomplishment when a report is delivered to his or her cell phone showing how much water was saved during the day or night because of their direct actions. It also aligns the reporting chain, changing from a reactive approach to a proactive one, not waiting for a high water bill to initiate action. “Creating awareness and changing people’s behaviour and attitude towards water is such a critical element,” Brink concludes.
Keep a lookout for the #SurplusWater2025 logo and progress. We are sure with these sorts of results, this initiative will become a household name.