Water security vital to business


Last week, the Eastern Cape’s provincial government made a welcomed announcement when it injected R1.2bn to help 10 drought-stricken municipalities in the province to deal with crippling water shortages.
Of this windfall, R233m has been pumped into Nelson Mandela Bay’s purse as one of the most affected areas following a two-year period of severe dry spells which at one stage saw the city’s water levels reaching a 35% mark.
The money will go towards keeping Day Zero at bay while the city continues to explore alternative water sources to augment its water supply.
This reaffirms the importance of reliable water provision and its sufficiency as a critical component for business development and its sustainability, while ensuring the city’s economic growth potential is safeguarded.
Essentially, water and economy are inextricably linked as improved access to water services and improved management of water resources contribute substantially to economic growth through increased business productivity and development.
So critical is the preservation of water that, on March 22, the United Nations celebrated World Water Day under the theme, “Leaving No-one Behind”, which is the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Achieving this goal would mean that everyone would have access to a reliable supply of clean water.
This includes industries that are heavily reliant on water usage for their operations.
Equally, there needs to be an emergence of new pathfinders where both the general populace and businesses – as economic drivers – carve a new path with water preservation at the forefront of their agenda.
As the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, one of our strategic interventions has been the most recent “How to Build a City” initiative which we hosted with the support of German development agency GIZ.
The initiative essentially focused on various factors that could be influencing the sustainability of water in Nelson Mandela Bay and how to avoid a possible Day Zero – this is when the city’s taps run to a trickle.
Part of this initiative also looked at how local businesses could start implementing various water-saving strategies.
Failure to recognise the fundamental role that industry can play in water preservation as local economic drivers, is a discredit to the efforts the business chamber and the metro are making in pulling all relevant stakeholders towards achieving a shared vision – all hands on deck to ensure the city is workable and liveable.
One of the few projects included in the initiative, is the pre-treatment recycling of water for washouts, as well as rainwater harvesting which assists with the company’s effluent plant and paint shop.The Volkswagen group’s sustainable water preservation strategies align well with what we are doing as the chamber.While the responsibility of water preservation cannot only be apportioned to businessesReaffirms the importance of reliable water provision as a critical business component as heavy water users, the community at large has an equitable responsibility of playing its part through harnessing these strategic water saving resources as part of a long-term vision in addressing water shortages.Striving to be the city’s leading catalyst for economic development, the business chamber – through our water task team as action arm – continues to seek various initiatives that can assist in sustaining the city’s growth while further engaging with a number of stakeholders to assist in these initiatives.Currently, the municipality is focused on a number of areas, including the factors influencing sustainable water supply.In the immediate term, the city is trying to improve on its turnaround time in terms of reducing water leaks and pipe bursts, including the rehabilitation of infrastructure through using efficient technologies.Nelson Mandela Bay being a drought-stricken area every four to five years, gives voice to the importance of finding sustainable ways of safeguarding this natural resource.Over and above its importance as a human right, water security also involves the understanding of the economic impact of severe water shortages on the local economy.Forward-thinking companies, such as the Radisson Blu, should be commended for their foresight in terms of how they were embracing innovative interventions to safeguard their water supply.The establishment recently unveiled its own desalination plant in Cape Town as part of its water augmentation strategy to ensure it has adequate supply.Locally, we doff our hats off to many of the industry players who continue to showcase their commitment through many of the initiatives that are geared towards water preservation.As the business chamber, we will consistently play our role through engagement with our collective stakeholders by re-emphasising the need for all hands to be on deck.This city can only work if we all play our part.

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