Water supply risks increasing among businesses

Increasingly more business owners are including the possibility of water shortages into their risk planning, and are looking for alternative means of supplying water to their operations.

This is according to Andre Agenbag, Divisional Head of Energy Partners Water (EP Water) – a division of Energy Partners and part of the PSG Group – who says that for many businesses, the prospect of having no access to water for any period of time can be worse than electricity cuts.

“When it comes to water, the security of supply has long been taken for granted. However, following the 2017/18 water crisis in the Western Cape, businesses are becoming much more aware of the risk of temporarily losing access to municipal water. This can bring the operations at many industrial sites to a halt, and even commercial properties could face massive problems if water supply is cut off.”

Most recently, the residents of Gauteng have also been made aware of the fact that municipal water supply is not guaranteed, when it was announced that water pressure would be significantly lowered due to maintenance being performed in the region.

“It should be said that it is encouraging to see that large-scale maintenance is being undertaken, and disruption in water supply is inevitable when this type of work is being done. However, it is crucial to be aware of the challenges that we will increasingly start facing regarding the supply of water.

“Service delivery in many areas is becoming challenging, and some of the more rural regions in South Africa routinely have to deal with water supply disruptions. The cost of municipal water is also rising for businesses and consumers in many cities. For example, the beginning of July saw water tariffs increase by 9.9% in Johannesburg, and by 14.5% in Durban. While Cape Town had no basic fixed rate increase this year, a 9% increase has been proposed on consumptive water tariffs in future.”

As a result, Agenbag says that EP Water has seen enquiries from potential clients looking for effective solutions. “We have seen an increase in demand for borehole and grey water solutions especially, as more businesses endeavour to become less dependent on municipal water supply. In addition to this, there has also been an increased interest in solutions that can provide water purification and quality assurance.”

Agenbag adds that alternative water supply solutions require the assistance of expert service providers. “Ensuring water quality is a complex process, which is why the vast majority of clients make use of outsourced service providers when adding boreholes and greywater into their operations. Service providers like EP Water can often provide water with much more efficiency and at a slightly lower cost per unit than most municipalities,” Agenbag concludes.