Have you ever tried to think of reasons why there is a water crisis? Why we ended up in such a difficult waterless situation? Some are quick to point fingers at local government, some might have another point of view. Let’s imagine random people in a bar asking each other the question: “Why is there a water crisis?”

It might just sound as follows:

Why is there a water crisis?
Because it rained too little

Why did it rain too little?
Because of an unusual weather pattern

Why is there an unusual weather pattern?
Because of too much Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere

Why is there too much Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere?
Because human actions emit too much Carbon Dioxide

Why do humans emit too much?
Because we think we can and most of us don’t care

Why don’t we care?
…. (I leave that to your imagination)

Or perhaps like this:

Why is there a water crisis?
Because we use too much water

Why do we use too much?
Because we are not set up to be efficient using less water whilst achieving the same result

Why are we not efficient?
Because we did not think it was necessary

Why did we not think it was necessary?
Because we did not know

Why did we not know?
Because we don’t care

Why don’t we care?
…(that, too, I leave to your imagination)

The conversation could also go like that:

Why is there a water crisis?
It’s a crisis because we cannot use water from our immediate watershed area any longer

Why can we not use water from our immediate watershed?
Because it is polluted beyond human use

Why is it polluted beyond human use?
Because we discharge sewerage, chemicals and waste into Cape Town’s rivers

Why do we discharge chemicals and sewerage into our rivers?
Because it is managed poorly

Why is it not managed?
Because most of us don’t care

Why don’t we care?
Because we don’t know any better…

So what is the real crisis here?

Humans wasting natural and vital resources out of carelessness? Is there perhaps little efficiency, little conservation and little protection of our most precious natural resources, be that clean air or clean water? Are we all responsible as an individual or as a corporate citizen? Have we all played a part toward this crisis?

Let’s make it right again and start caring…. Caring means we know, we manage, we understand. Visit Terra Firma Academy’s short courses teaching you how to manage our natural resources responsibly and sustainably into the future.

Do care!

Level 6b water restrictions apply in Cape Town, and Day Zero at the end of April is looming over your business!

If Capetonians and their businesses do not implement water saving measures fast and efficiently, water will run dry. If your business uses any form of water for its operations, your business will have to shut down on Day Zero. If your stock requires any form of water, your stock will be lost. Consider the financial and social implications with far reaching consequences affecting your business, your family, your safety and well-being.

What can you do? Ask Terra Firma Academy and learn with us. There may be just enough time to learn about water efficiency and conservation which is all about knowing and managing this precious resource. With water level 6b restrictions applying we all have an obligation to attain a new water consciousness which will lead to appropriate water saving measures. So today in Cape Town, knowledge and education are the keys to the future of your business:

Water Efficiency Management Course (3 days)

The course focuses on teaching learners how to systematically assess water usage within all types of organisations and to recommend appropriate solutions (technology & behaviour). Learners will be able to conduct financial assessments of each solution and will get a strong understanding of how to recommend solutions that maximise the customer’s return on investment. This course is SETA accredited and SAICE & ECSA validated.

More about the Water Efficiency Management course page »

Water Behaviour Change Course (3hrs) in-house

This course has specifically been designed to support companies on their path to sustainability and implementation of water saving strategies. Our experience has shown that water awareness and correlating behaviour change can save water quickly. This course is packed with simple, easy understandable examples and focuses on issues, which are often easily overlooked.

More about the Water Behaviour Change course page »

Water efficiency and conservation does not take a long time to understand and implement. It is all about simple one by one steps hand in hand with training of all occupants in a commercial building. There is enough time – with a degree of urgency today – to train and inform people on how to reduce water demand. Water efficiency is all also about knowing why to choose which retrofit and where to best apply it. Water demand reductions in any commercial building and facility are always within easy reach, and failure to do so will be fined and felt by all. The degree of urgency cannot be denied any longer. Learn and save water. Learn and save your business.

Level 5 water restrictions apply.

And how exactly should one do that? Ask Terra Firma Academy and learn with us. Water efficiency and conservation is all about knowing and managing the resource, but one cannot manage what one doesn’t know. True to Einstein’s quote “we cannot expect to solve problems with the same mindset that created them”, this means we have an obligation to attain a new water consciousness which will lead to appropriate water saving measures. So, knowledge and education are the keys:

Water efficiency and conservation does not take a long time to understand and implement. It is all about simple one by one steps hand in hand with training of all occupants in a commercial building. There is enough time – with a degree of urgency today – to train and inform people on how to reduce water demand. Water efficiency is all also about knowing why to choose which retrofit and where to best apply it. 20-30% water demand reductions in any commercial building and facility are always within easy reach. Come and see how! Terra Firma Academy offers the following water courses:

The knowledge imparted in these courses would not only help facility managers, but also many professionals such as plumbers, renovators, interior designers, office managers, pool doctors, foremen to name but a few. Some of them may wish to extend their professional service with water efficiency gaining a real competitive edge.

Water efficiency and conservation is by far cheaper and easier to attain than finding and using alternative water resources – or paying fines! Water efficiency also carries fantastic return on investments. So, let’s do our best to achieve water efficiency as quickly as possible. Everybody including yourself is responsible in ensuring long term availability of clean and healthy water.


With the current drought taking place in the country driven by the El Nino effect, most South Africans are acutely aware of the challenges being faced with regard to fresh water supply. The drought, coupled with the historical disadvantages faced by many in terms of accessibility to fresh water and the fact that South Africa is a water scarce country (the discharge of the Nile River in Egypt alone is about six times higher than the available surface water resources from all the South African rivers combined!) it’s still incredible how little we pay for our water, especially when considering the ever increasing costs of electricity. However, this will not last long.

The country has an urgent requirement to shore up its fresh water supply and to further upgrade existing facilities; much like we have had to do with Eskom and its infrastructure of late. I am sure you can see what comes next. Increased costs and increasing punitive measures being imposed on untreated water discharge, whether direct to the environment or to municipalities. To fully comprehend the imminent and potential future risks, you will need to undertake a Water Management Assessment of your business or organisation.

A Water Management Assessment looks at quantifying water flow around a facility and testing water quality where applicable with the aim of establishing new water sources and reusing water onsite, thereby increasing efficiencies. This in turn will lead to direct savings on operational costs through the reduction in water usage and potential fines from municipalities.

If water usage is critical to your operation, the lack thereof can represent a significant risk to the business’s ongoing function. For example; if you run a bottling plant then water is a key ingredient to your product. Any lack of water within the local area could potentially lead to water shortages and therefore to reduced production which affects the company’s bottom line. Adversely if the bottling plant is a heavy water user within the community, social pressures could also potentially lead to business closure, as public pressure mounts to conserve on daily water usage.

By performing a Water Management Assessment of one’s site, these risks could be effectively identified, managed and mitigated ensuring the longevity of the businesses operation.

Unlike a Carbon Footprint which includes water consumption data and is an annual snapshot of an organization’s environmental performance, conducting a Water Management Assessment need not to be an annual occurrence. The outputs of the Water Management Assessment should in essence outline a strategy over a short, medium and long term scale for water management opportunities to be implemented. Once the strategy has been implemented, it is then advised to go back to the drawing board and search for additional opportunities to be found on site, based on the site’s new water usage baseline. Essentially, as with most things, there is always room for improvement.

Depending on the operations conducted on site, the technologies installed and the maintenance applied to the water using devices; the potential for savings can vary significantly. However, it is not uncommon to find up to 40% reduction opportunities of onsite water usage. The typical range of water savings however lies between 10-20% from the sites original water usage baseline.

Water usage interventions typically fall under the following categories:

  • Demand management (e.g.: Reduce the need)
  • Structural (e.g.: Implement flow control devices)
  • Operational (e.g.: Leak detection and repair)
  • Economic (e.g.: Review water pricing policies)
  • Socio political (e.g.: Educating staff members and improving behaviour)

Depending on the operations conducted, either one or more of the above may be applicable to the site. The Water Management Assessment will immediately highlight the opportunities available.

So what does this mean in terms of costs to undertake an assessment? Costs can vary dramatically depending on the scale of the organisation or the water usage device(s) in question. Retrofitting a standard flow rate showerhead to a low-flow showerhead will come at a low CAPEX amount yet have up to 50% water savings and a first year ROI of around 300% taking into account both water and energy savings. Implementing a large scale reverse osmosis plant for water treatment onsite at a manufacturing or industrial operation can cost many millions of Rands yet could lead to a significant reduction of water usage onsite and potential penalties being enforced by the municipalities due to the original wastewater streams. When all the factors are taken into account the ROI’s on the larger implementations can typically be in the range of 25-50%.

The length taken onsite to perform a Water Management Assessment is dependent on a number of factors such as size of the site, the skills of the water auditors analysing the quality and water flows around a site, number of water usage devices, length of monitoring required etc. It is highly important that the water auditor is experienced in performing water assessments, as there could be significant risk in quantifying the potential water savings, financial savings and ultimately the project’s financial performance should the auditor get the initial figures wrong.

At the end of the day, we would always recommend that an expert perform a Water Management Assessment for the organisation. There are no direct qualifications in order to become a water auditor, however a strong engineering (Mechanical Engineer) background and a good track record in quantifying and implementing water management opportunities are key.

What are the benefits of SETA accredited training?

SETA (Skills Education Training Authority) accredited training entails that a skills development course is approved by one of the 21 industry specific SETAs. Each SETA sets specific standards for training providers which ensures the quality of the SETA accredited course. Once the attendee has completed the SETA accredited training, they will obtain recognition of competence that is recognised throughout the whole of South Africa. It confirms the level of proficiency and quality of training undertaken for current and future employers.

Therefore, the main benefit for employers is the knowledge that a certain standard has been set and adhered to by the course provider. The attendee has the benefit of knowing their training will be recognized throughout South Africa and can aim to complete a full Qualification Title if numerous courses have been successfully passed of the same qualification standard.

Will the company be able to recover the course costs from SARS?

According to the Skills Development Act (No 9 of 1999), any company registered in South Africa with an annual total payroll exceeding R500 000 per annum has to pay a skills levy of 1% of their monthly payrolls to SARS. The funds are used for education and training in businesses within various sectors, with the aim to expand the knowledge and competencies of their labour force. If the company fulfils certain conditions, for example, a successful implementation of a Workplace Skills Plan, the company will be eligible to apply for a Mandatory Grant rebate of their skills levy. In addition companies can apply for funds through Pivotal Programmes. The process differs between the SETAs and we recommend that you contact the relevant SETA directly for more information.

What does SETA, ETQA, SAQA and NQF stand for?

“SETA” stands for “Sector Education and Training Authority” in South Africa and are considered governmental assigned Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) bodies. In total, 21 different SETA’s established under the Skills Development Act (RSA, 1998c) cover all sectors of the South African economy. They are concerned with quality assuring training and education in relevant industries. For example, our Energy Efficiency Management and Water Efficiency Management courses are accredited with the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA). Their job is to help implement the National Skills Development Strategy and to increase the skills of people in their specific sector. The over arching body of all Education and Training Quality Assurance (ETQA) bodies, i.e. SETAs is the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is managed by SAQA. It ensures quality and genuine qualification that is nationally benchmarked and internationally comparable. Each SAQA unit standard has an assigned NQF level and credits.

Additional information can be found under:

Which SETA accredits our courses?

Energy Efficiency Management course
EWSETA – Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority

Energy Management Fundamentals course (accreditation in progress)
EWSETA – Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority

Water Efficiency Management course
EWSETA – Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority

Carbon Footprint Analyst course
LGSETA – Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority

Will I have to pass any exams or assignments after the course to receive SETA accreditation?

There will be no exams after the course but a Portfolio of Evidence, i.e. an assignment package. It will be supplied to the participant after the course and includes a variety of questions and assignments. The answers have to be supplied back to us within 1 month of the course completion. The exact submission date will be given to the participant during the course. A successful completion of the course will be certified with a certificate of competency. Students will be able to resubmit their Portfolio of Evidence if the assessor deems the students as not yet competent.

Who will be assessing my assignment and decide if I have been found competent?

The Portfolio of Evidence will be assessed by a registered constituent Assessor and moderated by a registered constituent Moderator. Both will be specialists in the field and registered with a Education and Training Qualification Assurance (ETQA) body, i.e. industry specific SETA.

Will I receive a certificate after the course?

Each participant will receive a Certificate of Attendance after the course. A Certificate of Competency in compliance with the SAQA and SETA standard will be issued after successfully completion of the Portfolio of Evidence.

In recent years South Africa’s electricity shortage problems have rightfully taken centre stage and our media has been filled with factual and emotional stories on the topic. In fact this important issue has been put on such a lofty platform that other key resource debates have had to take a seat well back in the government bus.

We live in what is mostly a semi-desert country and while electricity supply is a key to economic growth, we cannot live without a constant supply of fresh water. Our farmers who feed the nation use more than 50% of South Africa’s fresh water and without it we would clearly starve. Most of the debate around water in recent years has centred on Acid Mine drainage in Gauteng, as well as the impact of fracking on ground water supplies. We are often told that South Africa is not a water rich country but what are we doing about this? One could be forgiven for thinking that there is precious little planning around national water security and skills creation to help us become a more efficient user of this precious resource.

That is until last month’s announcement by Trevor Manuel. The National Planning Minister of a revised National Development Plan which calls for the establishment of a national agency to manage the availability of enough water. Describing water as potentially the biggest limit to growth in the economic and agricultural sectors, the document proposes to: “establish a national water-resources infrastructure agency.” The document states that there is growing concern about the countries water future and “the ability of the current water administration to cope with emerging challenges”.

Other concerns mentioned in the document where that “administrative failures and the absence of enforcement indicate that management quality is deteriorating and institutional memory is eroding.”  The document calls for the urgent need of a coherent plan to ensure protection of water resources.

Areas which the document focuses on are a call for a massive increase in water efficiency, leak detection and water quality. The plan calls for a dedicated national programme to provide support to local and sectoral efforts to reduce water demand and increase efficiency.

While calling for this type of urgent action is commendable the development plan will live or die in its ability to implement a comprehensive action plan and the support this plan gets from government through legislation and price increases. South Africa today lacks the skills required to implement this type of action plan and a key element of its success will be the up skilling of farmers and water services organisations. As the price of water in South Africa is minimal the urgency to rectify this problem is simply not yet there. If we cast our minds back less than 10 years the same issues prevailed on electricity. The price of electricity was so low that Eskom’s calls for action fell on deaf ears until several price increases and incentive programs led us towards a change.

On the legislation front, we need tangible changes that will motivate excessive users and industries of water to not waste and to reuse and recycle wherever possible. A water tax has often been thrown into the debate and this step is inevitable given the announcements around carbon emissions taxes to come from the Department of Finance however it will be years before this takes effect. Legislation and Taxes need to be balanced with the creation of incentive programmes that reward entities for water conservation practices that benefit us all. Incentives around specific technologies that can be implemented as well as behaviour changes are a good carrot to offer uses.

On the price increase front, what is needed is a few steep price increases to ensure that society realises that while water is a human right (as ensconced in our Constitution) one does not have the right to abuse this gift of the commons. While this will not be popular it will make people think when using this non renewable resource.

Finally and possibly most importantly, a number of new jobs are needed to fulfil the skills vacuum that exists today in water efficiency and management. Education and skills creation is an area that can have an immediate effect on the water scarcity issue. New professions like Community Water Manager, Water Auditor, Water Minimisation Expert, Water Quality Manager and Water Flow Manager will need to be created and individuals gaining these skills will know their skills are needed. It’s with this vision in mind that Terra Firma Academy has launched its Water Efficiency Management course.

The Introduction to water management course is aimed at individuals who want to build a career around advising businesses on how to measure and reduce their water consumption immediately and for those who want to extend their immediate skill sets in order to be able to implement an in-house water management strategy. Learners will be able to conduct financial assessments of each solution and will get a strong understanding of how to recommend solutions that maximise the customers return on investment.

The water debate is just starting! We need to take action now and to build the skills required to ensure efficient usage of water resources in our country.