By: Heiner Freese, chief operating & financial officer at SBS Tanks
A lack of a consistent and reliable water supply is having a big impact on the growth and profitability on many businesses in South Africa – particularly those in the manufacturing sector – and these businesses need to act swiftly to implement measures and solutions that are going to mitigate water security risk and better prepare them for an uncertain future.
According to the World Bank, with roughly 663 million people lacking access to drinking water and 2.4 billion people worldwide still lacking access to sanitation, water security is still considered to be one of the biggest global risks.
But, it’s not just individuals who are suffering.
In South Africa, water security has become an ever-increasing business objective and a concern for every citizen, as our climate continues to change and continued water supply challenges at municipal level become ever more evident.
No surprise, then, that across a variety of environments, including those in which SBS Tanks specialises, such as mining, fire protection, municipal, manufacturing, food and beverage, healthcare, hospitality and property development and management, there has become a greater need to mitigate the risks associated with water security.
This has been driven home by the fact that South Africa has a growing population and a developing economy currently under financial pressure, and these factors can only increase the pressure on the country’s water supply system, which, in turn, is already suffering from years of neglect and poor maintenance.
As a result, many businesses should be – and some already are – looking at creating their own water supply to avoid disaster and take control of their own destiny, rather than rely on the traditional water authorities to supply water.
ROI in water storage solutions
Additionally, the cost of water has increased drastically and will continue to do so, making the collection of rain water and the harvesting of water from unused resources just a couple of examples of where the return on the investment in water storage solutions can start to make economic sense, while providing continued supply that may otherwise not be guaranteed.
Nearly all industries require water, even if it is just drinking water for employees. Liquid storage tanks are a safe way to store water and if one looks at the water provision process, tanks are a common occurrence in any system, from extraction from rivers right through to storing wastewater for recycling.
Further, process water – water that cannot be classified as drinking water and is used in connection with technical plants and processes in production companies – is an important ingredient in many products, with water also often used in the cooling process of many manufacturing plants, such as the cooling of furnaces in steel manufacturing.
It is here, within non-food manufacturing environments, notes Freese, that mitigating water security issues is crucial and becomes a safety concern. In these areas it is highly likely that a furnace for instance, that does not have sufficient water for cooling could explode, threatening life and property.
Taking that thought a step further, fire is a threat that affects all businesses and it is becoming more common in new developments of both warehousing and residential accommodation that insurers require property owners to provide for and install sprinkler systems and standby water tanks.
Throw in the fact that in South Africa we are starting to hear more and more about ‘water shedding’ – as opposed to load shedding – and you have a scenario that requires responsible businesses to build in contingencies, such as the installation of water tanks, which have the ability to mitigate the risks of low water pressure, water shedding, or even no water being provided through the municipal water system.