Enhancing climate change resilience through water flow tracking
Making more informed strategic decisions on water resource management
The Richards Bay mill operates in a water-scarce catchment. The mill has already implemented best practice water management and reduced its consumption by 16%, mainly through process changes in the fibre line. This resulted in improved pulp quality without the need for high water use. In recent years, water risks due to climate change have become more evident in South Africa in the form of extreme droughts.
In response, the Richards Bay mill partnered with WWF-South Africa; German development agency, GIZ; NGOs such as the National Business Initiative (NBI) and neighbouring industry and government departments to form the uMhlathuze Water Stewardship Partnership (UWASP). Its aim is to build a climate and drought resilient landscape. A key concern was the communication between water authorities and users and the lack of visibility of metrics related to water availability and resources in the catchment. This contributed to ineffective decision-making and inefficient management of scarce water resources.
FlowTracker and Inwards are highly innovative near real time water monitoring tools, that will significantly strengthen water governance in the uMhlathuze catchment. The partnership between GIZ, NBI, Mondi, South 32, AWARD and WWF to fund and develop these tools is a superb example of organisations collaborating to address water security challenges on the ground.
Ruth Beukman, Freshwater & Policy Lead, WWF-South Africa
To mitigate this risk, UWASP worked with external consultants to fund, develop and commission a near real-time water flow monitoring system for the catchment. In 2022, the partnership assisted stakeholders and authorities to make more informed strategic decisions on water resource management.
© Photography Scott Ramsay