This article by Johan du Preez is part of a series on innovative businesses in Stellenbosch’s Techno Park, which appeared in the Stellenbosch newspaper, Eikestadnuus.

“South Africans have a national right to accessible, safe and affordable drinking water,” says Shawn Moorgas, director at Emanti, a water and environmental engineering consultancy in Stellenbosch’s Techno Park.

According to Moorgas the quality of South Africa’s drinking-water is regulated by, amongst others, the Water Services Act and SANS 241 which set the standards for drinking-water that water services institutions such as municipalities must comply with. The mandatory Blue Drop Certification Programme, introduced by the Department of Water and Sanitation, is furthermore used to evaluate and report on the quality of a municipality’s drinking water, to rank a municipality and to communicate the results to the public.

Emanti assists both the public and private sectors to proactively manage environmental, health and safety risks in the drinking-water and wastewater arenas. They support municipalities in the management of water service delivery and work closely with them to design appropriate water monitoring programmes, collect water quality samples, interpret data, carry out risk profiles and assist in risk management. Their ultimate aim is to ensure effective environmental management in a financially sound manner.

The business also supports other water services institutions – including the Department of Water and Sanitation – with other significant water-related programmes. These include research, municipal benchmarking initiatives and programmes aimed at the strategic improvement of water.

Emanti’s employees are qualified in water, chemical, civil and environmental engineering disciplines. The company also offers internships to previously disadvantaged graduates.

Emanti has received national and international recognition on a number of occasions. In 2008, for example, they were the winners of the Project Innovation Awards, presented by the International Water Association, in the European and Global categories respectively for work that they’ve done towards efficient municipal water quality management in South Africa. In 2010 their Municipal Strategic Self-Assessment Programme was recognised as International Best Practice in municipal business health assessment and management at the Stockholm World Water Week.  

“We’ve built up a sound reputation from our base here in the Techno Park,” says Moorgas, “We increasingly find that international role-players and water service providers countrywide look at us for guidance.”

Emanti certainly succeeds in rendering guidance and support at ground level where it matters most. But, I wonder, is the time not ripe for a national campaign to highlight what’s being done to ensure quality drinking-water and to raise our awareness of its value, instead of taking drinking-water for granted as we so often do?