Rainfall in the Western Cape has steadily declined, hitting a record low in 2017 and leading to the region’s worst drought in more than a century. Cape Town successfully avoided Day Zero in 2018 – but keeping taps open will depend on above-average winter rainfall and ongoing strict water management. For us at Vector, that means “Going Beyond” to reduce our overall consumption and ensure that the water crisis has a limited effect on our Cape operations.
The average water consumption at our Vector Peninsula operation in Cape Town has typically been 1429 kilolitres a month. Of this, 47% is used by condensers in the refrigeration plant, which ensures that all product in the cold stores are kept at required temperatures. In addition to the refrigeration plant, the other main consumers of fresh water are sanitation and the truck wash bay.
How are we “Going Beyond” to do more with less water?
We investigated various aggressive water reduction strategies for each of the above water-intensive processes and came up with a number of positive solutions – including shifting from traditional water-cooled condensers to adiabatic (air-cooled) condensers which will reduce refrigeration water use by about 70%; installing waterless urinals and flow restrictors to minimise fresh water use; and introducing waterless truck washing via a chemical wash system. The initiatives implemented so far have already brought our water consumption down to between 800 and 1000 kilolitres per month.
Through an investment of R5,8 million to reduce water consumption and ensure water security at Peninsula, the operation will reduce its water usage by a whopping 68% – a saving of 863 thousand litres of fresh water per month!
We also identified a number of alternative sources of non-potable water (such as harvesting ‘defrost’ water, collecting rain water, borehole drilling and piping in treated effluent water for the new condensers) and are currently implementing a number of these on site. Securing municipal “grey water” as a water source for all non-potable processes was a huge step beyond ‘business as usual’ and we will be using it (after treatment and further filtration on site) in both the adiabatic condensers and toilet flushing.
With these initiatives on the go, we will keep serving our customers with excellence while significantly conserving our precious fresh water supplies. It’s just another way we’re Going Beyond!