Backup water solutions come to the fore

Johannesburg, 19 Nov 2021
Read time 3min 40sec
Andre Smit, Technology Business Development Manager, Kemtek Imaging Systems.
Andre Smit, Technology Business Development Manager, Kemtek Imaging Systems.

As municipal infrastructure continues to fail in South Africa, access to clean drinking water is no longer guaranteed. As a water-scarce country, South Africa is already experiencing severe issues with water supply, with some regions being without water for long periods of time. The country is heavily reliant on seasonal rainfall to top up its catchment dams, but climate change is resulting in shifting rainfall patterns and decreased water security.

These are just some of the factors that have contributed to the rise to a water security industry that seeks to provide customers with leading-edge water security technology solutions. Andre Smit, Technology Business Development Manager at Kemtek Imaging Systems, says: “We’re seeing an increasing trend for businesses to identify gaps where South Africa’s infrastructure is failing, such as providing alternative power sources and now, water technology.”

Initial atmospheric water generator (AWG) technology that produced water from humidity was costly and consumed a lot of electricity, another scarce resource. “This has evolved into smarter AWG technology that is able to integrate and filter various sources of water, such as borehole, rain and municipal water,” says Smit. “Legacy AWG technology was unable to do this as it had no means of monitoring real-time water quality and safety.”

Drinking water has to comply with SANS 241, which states the minimum requirements for potable water to be considered safe for human consumption. Newer technology is able to provide real-time TDS (total dissolved solids) readings, which form the basis for assessing how clean and safe your water is. “Ideally, you also require filtration change and failure warnings to ensure you are drinking the cleanest and safest water, as well as the percentage of relative humidity (RH%) available and the water it produces per hour, as well as temperature and tank capacity readings,” explains Smit.

“This type of solution is meant to supplement the municipal water supply. As a backup, you can input municipal water and allow it to go through a filtration process, in the event that there’s not sufficient humidity in the air to create water.” 

Choosing a solution

Smit goes on to list the top six things that you should look for in a water security solution:

  1. Consider power usage, as the cost of electricity keeps rising and some of the other older AWG solutions are extremely heavy on electricity, specifically the smaller models. Also investigate whether the unit switches off when not in use or when the tanks are full.
  2. Does the technology provide you with adequate filtration and can the water be circulated in your absence in order not to waste water?
  3. Find out whether the solution can integrate with alternate water sources and provide real-time water safety management reporting.
  4. Ask if the technology provides cold, ambient and hot water with a security button that protects small children from pressing the hot water button; this is especially important in domestic installations.
  5. Is the technology scalable so that the user can decrease or increase their water intake?
  6. Finally, you need to consider the cost of the technology, ie, does it supply filtered water that is cheaper per litre than what can be purchased at the shops?

Testimony to South African businesses’ – and households’ – concern around water security, water security technology is being deployed across all sectors, from domestic homes to hotels and resorts and corporate buildings. The benefits are manifold, including removing the need to buy and store plastic bottles of water as well as a ready supply of chlorine-free water.

“Water technology is evolving all the time and will soon play a major role as a disruptive water supplier, with primary water sources under threat. While current AWG technology competes favourably from a costing perspective against bottled water and even water cooler technology, it can’t compete against municipal water rates because of the electricity that it consumes. Having said that, if the site has enough solar energy available, then this type of technology can compete with municipal rates,” he concludes. 

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