Sasolburg Operations has received two Green Drop awards from the Department of Water and Sanitation during the launch of the Green Drop Report, namely ‘Best Performing Private Sector System’ and ‘Best Progress made by a Private Sector System’ – improving from 86% in 2013 to 96% in 2022.

Furthermore, Sasol’s Sasolburg Operations is the only private institution to receive Green Drop certification in 2022 and one of only 23 wastewater systems to achieve the accolade this year. The system was also noted as the fourth best performing overall.

“Our win is a direct reflection of our commitment and resilience in working towards innovating for a better world through all our water initiatives,” says Rightwell Laxa, Senior Vice President: Sasolburg and Ekandustria Operations, Sasol.

“I want to single out our Sasolburg Utilities Water and Waste team for securing this prestigious outcome and working so hard that they increased our score from 86% in 2013 to an incredible 96%,” he continues.

Green Drop programme

The Green Drop certification programme was introduced in 2008, seeking to protect the environment from the hazards associated with polluted wastewater or sewage. It focuses on wastewater quality management and promotes compliance of wastewater treatment works with the national Wastewater Discharge Standards.

It measures and compares the results of the performance of water services authorities and their providers via a standardised scorecard, and subsequently rewards (or penalises) the municipality upon evidence of their excellence (or failures) according to the minimum standards or requirements that have been defined.

Part of an incentive-based regulation approach, Green Drop is an innovative and uniquely South African response to challenges in the water sector. The programme seeks to induce changes in the behaviour of individuals and institutions to facilitate continuous improvement and the adoption of best practice in the management of wastewater networks and treatment systems.

Consequently, progressive improvement and excellent performance are recognised and rewarded. The programme also seeks to get wastewater treatment works to measure themselves against international risk standards for wastewater quality.

“The Green Drop certification programme sets standards higher than minimum requirements, and challenges water services authorities to go the extra mile in a quest for excellence, with the intention to augment and complement the normal legislative and regulatory provisions,” said Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu, who hosted the awards ceremony, during the launch of the Green Drop Report.

A total of 995 wastewater networks and treatment works belonging to private and public water services institutions were subjected to the Green Drop audit from 1 July 2020 to
30 June 2021.

Of these, only 23 wastewater systems scored a minimum of 90% when measured against the Green Drop standards and thus qualified for Green Drop certification. This is lower than the 60 wastewater systems awarded Green Drop status in 2013.

The success of Sasolburg Operations

Obtaining Green Drop certification is a result of a combination of various water initiatives. One of the most significant being the bio-sludge generated through Sasol’s Sasolburg facilities, which is composted and used as a landfill cover.

Other initiatives include the extensive three-phase upgrades to the municipal water and sanitation pump station systems in the greater Sasolburg area. During Phase 1, R2 million was invested, while the critical mechanical and electrical works at the Gortin and Chris Hani pump stations were valued at more than R3.4 million in Phase 2.

Civil works were also conducted at 11 Metsimaholo Local Municipality (MLM) pump stations. Phase 3 comprised critical remedial upgrades and capacity building at the MLM sanitation network valued at R6.2 million, including the electric monitoring of major sewer pump stations in Baddrif, Welgelegen, Leeuwspruit, Leitrim, Gortin 4 and Amelia.

“As a company, we are continuously contributing towards the enhancement of water quality in South Africa. However, this certification does not mean that our work is done. Our envisaged outcome for future programmes is ultimately to provide a healthy living environment for the Sasolburg and Zamdela communities by eliminating exposure to raw sewage,” Laxa concludes.

Responsible water management

Over the years, Sasol has pressed on with its efforts to responsibly manage its water use, particularly in water-scarce areas, and to ensure that the quality of the catchment areas does not deteriorate.

Sasol has implemented the following community projects related to water since 2017:

  • In Secunda, it has continued to support Govan Mbeki Local Municipality by investing approximately R180 million in water and sanitation infrastructure projects in recent years. This includes completing two sewer pump stations in Kinross, which were handed to the local government.
  • In Sasolburg, it has continued to support Metsimaholo Local Municipality through the following projects:
    • installation of water-saving devices and monitoring systems in schools
    • contracting plumbers and water warriors to carry out basic leak repairs at over 28 schools and 10 000 homes in Zamdela.
  • Sasol Mining operations implemented the following projects in 2021:
    • upgraded the Greylingstad sewer and wastewater treatment works
    • built a water pipeline from eMbalenhle to Charl Cilliers to provide the
  • Charl Cilliers community with better access to water
    • rehabilitated bridges in Polar Township near Ogies in Mpumalanga
    • river water use decreased from 115.5 million m³ in 2020 to
108.6 million m³ in 2021 mainly due to the divestment of assets in the USA and the joint venture partner being responsible for reporting on river water use.

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