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Not just your average water company

15th December 2023

     

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Some perspectives on water in South Africa from Talbot CEO Carl Haycock with over 25 years’ experience supporting industry and mining in Africa.

 

Why Talbot?

With more than a 35-year track record in industry across Africa and beyond, Talbot has it all. From in-house water analytics software as a service, to water risk and water security strategy development, through designing of solutions and construction of plant, to optimisation, maintenance, aftersales support and even our own in-house environmental laboratory. We are able to bring it all together to provide our clients with the most progressive thinking and best advice for their specific needs. 

What drives you and your team?

We all believe that water has, until recently, been one of the most under-valued resources in the world. We have a passion for understanding our clients’ water requirements in the context of the “catchment” that they are in and helping them to become more sustainable in relation to water and, therefore, as a business. Water can no longer be taken for granted as it has become a significant cost with a very direct impact on business sustainability.

What is your approach to supporting clients?

Getting an in-depth understanding of their process and their behaviour at each of their sites is imperative. This may require spending time with both executive and operational teams within the client organisation.  Too often we see generic requests for quotes being issued for advice, solutions or support that are not appropriate for the clients’ specific needs. It is only by spending time understanding the process and the variances within the process that a tight score and associated requirements can be developed. 

What is your biggest differentiator?

Our strength lies in the diversity of our people and organisation, complemented by extensive knowledge and hands-on experience. We take a collaborative approach to meet our client’s needs with our access to global experts through a network of world-class partners. This enhances the credibility of our teams across various sectors. Above all, our goal is to deliver the best outcome for our clients, promoting sustainable water practices.

What is the future of water in the region?

We know that insufficient focus has been placed on water infrastructure in the region for decades now. We are already seeing supply being outstripped by demand, exacerbated by poor maintenance of infrastructure and operational challenges. The only way this is going to be rectified is by spending serious money on water-related infrastructure, whether centralised or decentralised.  This means that we are going to be paying a lot more for water, we are going to see more and more disruption (unplanned water outages) and more water shifting. This will impact big industry and big water users both from a direct and an indirect cost perspective, such as lost production.  There are, however, opportunities if you look for them.

How does industry address the future water outlook? 

Industry must develop site specific water strategies which look to isolate their sites from the grid as much as possible. Unlike electricity, the challenge with water is far more difficult to solve - there is no alternate source. But you may be able to install buffer capacity, optimise your water use and reduce your offtake, and look to recover as much of the water on site as possible. Financially water recovery is now viable and there are numerous sources of funding available.

What is your biggest concern for industry in South Africa?

De-industrialisation of South Africa due to the various challenges that we face. Water is going to add to this problem unless we act quickly and are innovative. Also, we have a belief in South Africa (and Africa at large) that we do not have the knowledge and skills within the country to solve our water problems. We do! We do not always need international businesses to provide the best advice. We have more experience dealing with water scarcity and disruption than many other parts of the world.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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