South African industry drowning in ignorance about Water Crisis risks

17 April 2012

The recently-released Water Disclosure Report (I haven’t seen it yet so not sure how well its been disclosed to its intended audiences or if its one of those essential reports that you have to pay to read) indicates that [Source: Business Live]:

… 85% of water-intensive users among the JSE Top 100 companies are exposed to water-related risk, with 70% believing that risks to their direct operations could occur within the next five years.

Where its gets dicey is that it also finds that:

… many companies have not assessed the true value of water because of a lack of data, and still need to calculate the impact on water from climate change, disruption to supply and inefficient water use.

Furthermore that:

South African companies have a low awareness of water-related risk through their supply chains. Only 38% of companies were able to identify risks in their supply chains, and a further 38% did not know if their supply chains were at risk. Only 19% are requesting key suppliers to report on water-related issues.

And I guarantee that less than 10% have any concerns about water quality issues!

As we reported yesterday, all this comes at a time when Water Affairs is in dire straits financially and in terms of skills (see SA Water Crisis Just Got Expensive [sic]).  I was chatting to a senior DWA staffer today who indicated to me the very severe problems that the lack of organizational memory (read: massive loss of knowledgeable staff) is having on this extremely-important organ of state.

My recent take on the issue that South Africans just don’t give a damn about water is somewhat illustrated by the ease with which Durban’s move to pipe recycled effluent into eThekwini-managed homes has gone almost unchallenged [Source: Daily News].

The recycling and purifying plan involves producing about 12 percent of the city’s tap water supply from recycled sewage effluent – mainly in the northern suburbs and townships.

The water would be disinfected and purified at the KwaMashu and Northern sewerage works, which would be upgraded to incorporate new ultra-filtration and disinfection methods.

Good luck Durban!  Sales of water filters are set to go through the roof as they did in China recently!


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