It may be hard to believe that the looming water crisis that was debated in Parliament in 2008 remains an issue. Engineering Council of SA vice-president Thoko Majozi warns: “the maximum consumption that South Africa’s water resources can sustain will be reached in about five years”.

The reality of the situation is that there is simply not enough water supply to meet demand. It is clear that there needs to be sustainability planning which satisfies future demand by using current technology. The world’s supply of freshwater is threatened by pollution and a growing demand by industrial, agricultural and individual consumption.

These facts should set off alarm bells for companies or individuals alike to implement water management strategies. We have seen several heavy industry users putting in place water recycling facilities and wastewater treatment plants. Classic examples of well recognised industry users taking a stand are Avis and South African Breweries.

Avis have implemented intensive water recycling plants at all three of their main car wash facilities in Cape Town, Durban and Isando. According to Avis Chief Executive, Wayne Duvenage, Avis car-wash facilities now save in excess of 100-million litres of water a year through a combination of modifying their machines (25% saving) and recycling (75% saving). In addition, underground reservoirs were also installed at these facilities to harvest rainwater, which essentially become “water neutral” facilities during the wet rain periods.

South African Breweries has joined the quest to conserve water and two of the SAB breweries are classified as quantitatively water neutral. SAB is a founding partner of the WWF’s Water Neutral Scheme which encourages local entities to voluntarily monitor and reduce their operational water usage.

SAB has successfully started “Project Eden” which involves wastewater treatment.

It is comforting to see that these heavy industry users of water are playing their part in the conservation of our precious resource. Wayne Duvenage will be presenting a case study on “Water conservation at Avis” at the Sustainable Water Resource Conference and exhibition 2011. The Conference will take place at Emperors Palace on 16 – 17 August 2011. This event, convened by Alive2green, provides a platform for education and discussion regarding water conservation along with other pressing issues and latest technologies. The Conference and Exhibition will bring together delegates, speakers and exhibitors that recognise the need to incorporate water management strategies and who have identified the economic benefits of doing so. Other issues to be covered include, but are not limited to, Dams and the water crisis, Energy efficiency in water treatment, Reducing operating and maintenance costs of Municipal and Industrial wastewater treatment plants and health impacts of water in South Africa.

The importance of water conservation cannot be underestimated. We cannot afford to wait for someone else to take control. We all need to play our part to ensure that this finite resource is preserved.

For more information on the Sustainable Water Resource Conference and exhibition 2011, please contact Cara-Dee Carlstein on 021 447 4733 / or visit