Old Mutual launches SA’s first ‘benchmark’ off-grid water project

Old Mutual - [Google Images]

The group is the first large corporation in SA to move off the council water grid.

Old Mutual on Monday moved off the council water grid, unveiling its wastewater-to-drinking-water filtration system at its Mutual Park premises in Pinelands, Cape Town.

The move is likely to see the group harvest 650 cubic litres of clean water a day through the purification of waste water.

The move makes the group the first large corporation in SA to go off the council’s water grid and will save the City of Cape Town up to 15,000 kilolitres of water. “We have set the benchmark — this is a model for future generations‚” said Iain Williamson‚ Old Mutual’s COO.

In 2016‚ the company installed one of the largest solar energy systems of any corporation in the country.

Although it was only unveiled on Monday‚ a pilot phase has been operating for the past six weeks. The water has proven to be of a “superior quality” even to the municipal supply‚ Williamson said.

The water had been switched off “for some time” and with the filtration system now operating‚ it was “great to have fully clean and pressurised toilets functioning in the building again”, he said.

Ten-step filtration system

Old Mutual partnered with the City of Cape Town and PCM Consulting to get the project off the ground. The 10-step filtration system is functioning on site.

“Climate change and variability are here to stay‚” said Sarah Rushmere‚ who heads stakeholder engagement for the water and sanitation department of the city. She hoped to encourage all corporations to engage in the city’s “star-rating” process, which measures its water stewardship functions.

Old Mutual was already exemplary in being “an energy-efficient campus” even before “the water crisis came”.

Rushmere said it was also important to remember that all interventions such as Old Mutual’s are subject to laws pertaining to water because “alternative sources of water can be dangerous if not managed properly”.

The water harvested is constantly tested to ensure that all is going according to plan. The whole system automatically shuts down if even a small sample proves to be below par.

Peter Moyo‚ CEO of Old Mutual‚ joked that “staff in Cape Town would no longer have to fly to Joburg to take a shower”. More seriously, he encouraged other businesses to follow the benchmark set by Old Mutual.

“Big corporates really can make a difference‚” Moyo said.

With offices in 13 countries on the continent‚ Moyo said this “new journey” was a milestone for both Old Mutual and the city.