City and Business Gear up to Embrace Conservation of Scarce Water Resources | Western Cape Government



City and Business Gear up to Embrace Conservation of Scarce Water Resources

23 June 2005
Councillor Saleem Mowzer, Mayoral Committee Member for Trading Services in the City of Cape Town says, "The role of the business sector is pivotal in facilitating the behaviour modification, lifestyle changes, attitudinal shifts and mindset changes informing Capetonians regard for water, as this sector accounts for 17% of water used in the city".

This was the message he conveyed yesterday to more than four hundred staff of the multinational pharmaceutical corporation, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which had requested his address on the water resource situation in the Cape, at the corporation's Epping offices.

The talk by Councillor Mowzer was delivered against the backdrop of the Global Earth Week, which GSK was participating in through its world wide regional offices, as well as the recently held Western Cape Sustainable Development Conference at which Councillor Mowzer highlighted sustainable water resource management as a high priority for the region.

Councillor Mowzer commended GSK staff for embracing the conservation of the city's scarce water resources as one of its strategic environmental objectives for 2005.

GSK staff requested the councillor to elaborate on:

  • The extent of the water resource situation
  • The future rainfall outlook
  • The impact of the water resource situation on infrastructure and society

  • Water saving tips
  • Issues surrounding the use of boreholes and wellpoints
  • The importance of industry taking the lead in water conservation

In response Councillor Mowzer said, "Climate change is the single biggest environmental threat facing the global community. The effects of it are already evident in Cape Town, where we are experiencing changes in weather patterns, rainfall intensity and frequency. All sectors of society, including the business community, need to act collectively to mitigate the risks it poses to our livelihoods, economy, health and social structures."

Councillor Mowzer highlighted that future water shortages would hamper economic growth, attracting investment and the competitive positioning of the city in the global economy. Therefore the business community needs to contribute towards the greater public good and the management of scarce resources such as water.

The business sector was therefore encouraged to fulfil its corporate social responsibility as part of sound corporate governance and consider practical interventions to bring about the efficient utilisation and management of water resources.

These include:

  • Workplace water education initiatives - every worker is a family member as well as a member of a community, various institutions and broader social networks, through which mass mobilisation of the public in pursuit of water conservation must be harnessed
  • Integration of water conservation into corporate environmental objectives
  • Recognition of the water resource situation cascading from the highest to lowest levels of the businesses
  • Improving manufacturing, production and operating processes to achieve water efficiency and reduce excessive consumption
  • Eliminating inefficient design aspect such as automatic flushing urinals
  • Planting water wise staff gardens
  • Diversifying reliance away from the potable water only and exploring the use of treated effluent, grey water systems, boreholes and wellpoints as alternative supply options for irrigation and cooling purposes.

Concluding Councillor Mowzer said, "We need to inculcate and cultivate a greater culture for the value of water in our society. Our growth and development targets, our water scarce future as a city and our moral conscience compels us to do so. To achieve this we need to build and cement our partnerships with the business community and all sectors of civil society and we must agree that water conservation is everyone's business."

Climate change is the result of increased amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere that are leading to rising temperatures. This is resulting in higher sea levels and coastal erosion, changes in rainfall intensity, changes in the frequency and intensity of flooding, droughts, storms, vector borne disease and water supply, and changes in the geographical distribution and survival of plants and animals.


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