Talbot recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in South Africa. The company staged two seminars to update the industry on some of the most pressing water risks facing South African businesses. It also showcased opportunities to manage these risks by utilising industry 4.0 technology.
Held in Johannesburg and Durban on 7 and 10 October, the seminars attracted representatives from a wide range of sectors who all share water as a common interest. These include delegates from the food and beverage industry, forestry, pulp and paper, healthcare, fast-moving consumer goods and cosmetics.
Talbot’s strategic director, Helen Hulett, outlined the severity of the water risk. ‘If your production and revenue haven’t been negatively affected in some way by water, it shortly will,’ she points out. ‘The condition of local water provision structures is arguably far worse and more difficult to rectify than our electricity supply.’
Hulett emphasised that South Africa is a water scarce country. It currently ranks 30th in the world for baseline water stress. Climate change will further exacerbate the problem.
This is not the sole contributor to short and medium-term water risk. 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 improved to 86%, meaning that 20 years later, 8.5 million additional households are consuming water.’
In complete contrast to the rise in off-take, supply infrastructure is in a dire state of disrepair and lacks the skills necessary to operate efficiently.
‘Current statistics show that 44% of water and 56% of wastewater treatment plants are in a critical condition and 11% of water treatment works are dysfunctional.
The bottom line is that the water coming out of many of our taps is not fit for human consumption, something which will certainly not improve in the short term,’ she emphasises.