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Every drop counts for Coega - published 24 Nov 2021

Thirty-six (36) rainwater harvesting tanks at the Q-Plas facility in the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park.


Every drop counts for Coega - Coega SEZ investor, Q-Plas, sounds the alarm to save water amid prolonged NMB water crisis.

Gqeberha, South Africa, 24 November 2021
– To achieve sustainable socio-economic development, the availability of natural resources must be secured. “Since the onset of the Nelson Mandela Bay water crisis, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has consistently put stringent measures in place to conserve water and reduce consumption across its growing Special Economic Zone (SEZ),” says Andrea von Holdt, CDC’s Environmental Project Manager, Operations.

Testament to this is the CDC’s recent Environmental Merit Award at the 2021 Exporter of the Year Awards. As an example of Environmental Best Practise in sustainable resource use, Coega investor Q-Plas, saved 171.72 kilolitres of water from August to October 2021 through rainwater harvesting alone. The latter is enough to fill thirty-four of the facility’s thirty-six 5 000-litre water tanks. Located in the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park (NMBLP), the automotive component supplier plans to install additional tanks to increase its rainwater harvest capacity from 180 000 to 360 000 litres. This will not only lead to the attainment of 20% water savings set by the Municipality for the SEZ but will provide the necessary water relief to distressed areas within the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) benefiting from the water savings within the SEZ. With dam levels at just above 12%, the CDC urges all businesses – big or small – to respond to the crisis by conserving water wherever possible.

Q-Plas utilises water in its manufacturing processes and day-to-day operational requirements. As a business decision, and supported by the CDC, Q-Plas committed to reduce dependency on municipal potable water and ensure that their operations aren’t interrupted by municipal water shortages or faults on the main water supply, by installing water tanks to harvest rainwater from the roof area of their buildings. The rainwater harvesting system was installed in July 2021 and is now showing a significant reduction in potable water consumption and dependency on external water sources, which equates to a water saving of 171.72 KL over the past three months, with concurrent significant rand value savings to Q-Plas. The savings above allow Q-Plas to operate for three weeks solely from harvested rainwater.

“Water is an integral part of our manufacturing process. Following a business decision, we collaborated with the CDC and embarked on phase 1 of our rainwater harvesting system. This reduces dependency on municipal potable water, ensuring that operations remain uninterrupted and free from quality issues on the water lines. This system is not about saving money; while water is a scarce commodity, it is relatively affordable. This is about managing risk and being environmentally responsible. This project has helped us to secure operations despite water challenges in the area and made us environmentally sustainable for the future,” says Q-Plas Director, Nico Serfontein.

“Owing to ageing infrastructure, coupled with severe drought throughout the Eastern Cape, investors are all encouraged to apply principles of environmental best practise, which include measures to reduce water consumption and to harvest rainwater. The CDC recognises the measure by Q-Plas as an example of leading the way in sustainable resource use. The CDC is committed to implementing environmental best practise within the Coega SEZ and the NMBLP. Emphasis is placed on the economic value of our natural resources, which includes our water resources,” says Ms von Holdt.

The CDC has environmental approval to develop the metro’s first desalination plant. In addition to supplying Nelson Mandela Bay with drinking water, the future plant is expected to add a much-needed boost to the local economy. Furthermore, from a facility maintenance perspective, water pressure is reduced through pressure reducing valves in ducts and restricted aerators on taps in CDC-owned buildings. The CDC has installed water tanks in all its operational facilities to supplement municipal supply and established a dedicated a call centre for the reporting of all leaks. The CDC has appointed a pool of service providers who attend to any reported water leak 24/7. The organisation maintains a water wise garden boasting a range of drought tolerant Eastern Cape thicket plant species. The CDC has also implemented the mandatory use of rainwater tanks in Site Development Plans.

Contractors in the SEZ are not allowed to use potable water for construction purposes. Return effluent from Fish Water Flats wastewater treatment works (WWTW) is used as an alternative construction water source. The CDC recognises the value of sustainable development, not only in terms of our natural resources, but in the long-term sustainability of the Coega SEZ and the NMBLP and our ability to attract investment and offer a word-class investment destination.


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