Port Elizabeth Water Saving Initiatives

General Motors South Africa has initiated a number of water-saving
initiatives in its two Port Elizabeth plants in order to reduce
consumption per vehicle produced.

Andile NgcoboSince the drought in
the region has intensified, the company has been
looking at ways to meet Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s call for
industry to reduce its consumption by 25%. According to Mike Pearton,
GMSA vice president of
manufacturing operations, the company is
striving to meet this target. “We recently held two full day workshops
with engineers and management with the primary focus aimed at reducing
municipal water reliance and to further investigate opportunities to
recycle and re-use the effluent streams from our  processes to
achieve the 25%,” he said.

As an ISO 14001 certified company resource conservation has been
integrated into all of GMSA’’s operating processes. Pearton said
between 2007 and 2009 the company reduced its water consumption by more
than half. “But more needs to be done and we are aiming to use all
available technology and process improvements to continuously minimise
resource consumption and eliminate waste generation in all operations.”

However, Pearton added that everyone in the company has to be focused
on saving water in the workplace and in their homes. “To support this
the company has launched an internal suggestion initiative to generate
water saving ideas to ensure we use all the knowledge of all our people
to be as effective as we can and maximise savings.”

GMSA and the Port Elizabeth Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(PERCCI) continue to engage with
the municipality on water conservancy
initiatives. The sharing of information on water saving best practices
has been one of the group’s key objectives. “The 25% saving is tough on
all of us, but the successes attained in one company could be a thought
starter to initiatives within others,” said Pearton.

Furthermore, Pearton said when the water saving initiatives have dried
up within the company one needs to look outside for opportunities. “The
saving of water wasted in our schools in our city due to vandalism and
copper pipe theft is one of these opportunities. Between the
municipality, Department of Education and industry school facility
maintenance needs to be improved so more water could be preserved.”
Pearton added.

To this end, GMSA recently fixed the ablution and drinking facilities
at Vezubuhle Primary School in Motherwell where copper pipe theft
caused severe water wastage. The conventional tap heads of all drinking
taps had also been replaced with water-efficient taps that only release
water on demand. The acting school principal, Mrs Sibongile Daniels,
said that the school now saves significantly on water usage.

The efficient use of resources such as water and electricity is not
only beneficial in a shortage crisis, but it also instills an awareness
of ensuring availability of these commodities for future generations
Pearton added. “Continuous awareness in the workplace and in schools
need to be advocated in order to encourage an ongoing culture of
resource conservation.”

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