ERWAT’s leading-edge technology, coupled with its economy of scale credo, presents a cost-effective, environmentally sound water care solution
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Established in 1992 as a Section 21 Company, the East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT) has been a critical source of knowledge, action, improvement and sustainability over the following 25 years in striving to bring efficiency and long-term utilities prevalence to South Africa.
Under the guidance of shareholders, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Lesedi Local Municipality and Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, ERWAT provides bulk wastewater conveyance and a highly technical and proficient wastewater treatment service to as many as 2,000 different industries and more than 3.5 million people affected by sanitation services.
It is also custodian to 19 wastewater care works, treating a combined capacity of more than 696 megalitres of wastewater each day.
“Innovative in nature with extensive expertise and experience in a variety of proven processes, ERWAT offers advanced technologies, developed to meet the ever-growing demand for improved quality in the industry,” the Company introduces on its website. “The strategic focus of the Company is aimed at providing the right sized works in the best geographical location at the most economical cost, incorporating the finest and most appropriate available technology.
“The Company is rich in expertise and has been instrumental in developing methods to reduce costs while at the same time rendering excellent quality of effluent.
“With the increasing cost of managing wastewater, ERWAT’s leading-edge technology, coupled with its economy of scale credo, presents a cost-effective, environmentally sound water care solution.”
ERWAT continuously strives to improve the utilisation of existing infrastructure while also encouraging upgrades and improvements where resources allow. And from this platform the Company offers the provision and maintenance of process control systems; technical support; advanced chemical and bacteriological laboratory services; R&D in water-related areas; industry specific training; and project management services.
“ERWAT actively promotes a healthy environment and all works are meticulously controlled so as to obviate odours, soil and ground water pollution,” the Company adds. “Quality control is an essential element of ERWAT’s operations and process quality monitoring is diligently performed on all the wastewater care works.
“With its proven track record, human resource investment and forefront technology, ERWAT is ideally poised to provide the highest quality cost effective and efficient wastewater solutions and service.”
Serve clients and the environment
Ultimately, ERWAT’s vision is to be the water company of choice, while its mission remains to provide sustainable, affordable, quality water services through innovative, organisational practices.
The journey to achieving these goals begins in ERWAT’s SANAS 17025-accredited laboratory which offers the industry a wide variety of services in the fields of chemical and microbiological analysis, as well as expert consultancy services to facilitate problem solving to water-related problems.
“The main objectives here are to serve clients and the environment; to support clients in wastewater investigations; to analyse low-high range concentrations on samples; to handle large volumes of samples; and to offer affordable scientific services in a short turnaround time.”
Additional technical services include plant maintenance and engineering as well as project engineering services; and to gear towards The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS)’s 2008 Green Drop certification programme for wastewater treatment works.
ERWAT continues: “This initiative is an effort to ensure that they progressively improve their operations so as to not impact negatively on the water bodies into which they discharge their product.
“The proposed system aims at awarding water services authorities with Blue and/or Green Drop Status if they comply with drinking water and wastewater legislation and other best practices required by DWS. This incentive-based regulatory approach is a first for South Africa, and is internationally regarded as unique in the drinking water regulatory domain.”
To meet its targets and to align with the Green Drop initiative, ERWAT has developed systems to help improve the industry and to track progress more effectively. And to affirm the Company’s progress to this end, quarterly assessments are carried out to assist in identifying shortcomings and gaps to allow ERWAT to pursue its overriding philosophy of continuous improvement.
Principles of continuous improvement
Naturally, such works overlap extensively with peripheral corporate social responsibility expectations, in contributing to the betterment of South Africa’s communities and utility sustainability.
And ERWAT has always been clear in its ambitions to maintain and build awareness of the country’s challenges through a well planned social responsibility programme.
“This programme includes annual events to educate communities on water, such as National Water Week, National Youth Month and National Sanitation Week,” it notes. “ERWAT often partners with other role-players to achieve its social responsibility goals, such as the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, the Department of Water and Sanitation, conservation specialists and non-government organisations (NGO’s).”
Of course, the Company has to remain commercially viable as well, but is clear in its realisation that commercial success is hinged upon its ability to contribute responsibly to society and the natural environment.
“The Company is therefore committed to the protection of the environment by avoiding pollution of natural streams, groundwater, soil and air. Effluent, sludge and odours in particular are managed to ensure environmentally safe purified water, which complies with the disposal standards,” ERWAT continues. “For this reason, the Board of Directors and management of the Company are committed to the principles of continuous improvement by means of: providing a skilled, motivated and competent workforce; promoting multidisciplinary interactive support arrangements across departmental borders; ensuring the technical and/or physical ability of treatment plants through capital upgrading and preventative maintenance programmes; formal identification of risk factors at each of its plants; industry-focused research and development initiatives; and co-operation with the regulator and related institutions to continually establish or improve appropriate water quality standards and operational procedures.”
Additional strategies incorporate the minimisation of natural resource impacts, the encouragement of sound effluent treatment practices, and the involvement in outside bodies’ decision making processes when it comes to legislative regulations and requirements.
“This commitment in respect of environmental management is reflected in ERWAT’s strategic business plans, training and induction programmes as well as internal and external communication projects,” the Company concludes.