Strategic Water Partners Network: Working together for water futures:

20 Feb 14

SAB water futures

According to a study by the 2030 Water Resources Group South Africa faces a 17% water supply demand deficit by 2030 under current efficiency levels. To avoid this outcome, we all need to take action now.

We’ve come to realise that many of the resource challenges we face today and in the future can only be addressed by working with a broad coalition of partners.

To this end, we’re a founder partner of the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) which was formed in 2011. This is a coalition of businesses and other organisations working together to improve water efficiency and infrastructure. Partners include the Department of Water Affairs, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the South African Water Research Commission, the South African Local Government Association and several other companies such as Coca-Cola, Eskom, Nestle and Sasol.

This network is also a part of a much wider coalition, the Water Resources Group, which similarly works to catalyse public private partnerships around future water security.

The mission of the SWPN is to shape and test concepts as well as governance processes and pilot projects around water sustainability. Their overall strategy is aligned with the National Planning Commission’s growth path for South Africa.


The South African network is organised into three working groups:

  • Water Use Efficiency / Leakage Reduction,

  • Supply Chain / Agriculture

  • Effluent Partnerships

Each group works on identifying projects, best practices and recommending strategies to overcome challenges. Part of these efforts include sharing best practice and replicating successful pilot projects.

In our operations at SAB we’ve undertaken various initiatives addressing aspects of water use from across the spectrum.


Our focus areas include:

  • Water efficiency: Improving water efficiency in our breweries as well as in our agricultural operations. Measuring our efficiency in our various departments allows more accountability and a way to analyse our progress.
  • Water stewardship: SAB was one of the first companies in South Africa to undertake a detailed water footprinting study. We worked closely with experts to determine the implications of future scenarios. As a result our water stewardship strategy considers local hydrology, climate change patterns, socio-economic development and agronomic realities.

These focus areas serve to inform the projects we implement.


Some of our project areas include:

  • In our breweries: We’re exploring a range of opportunities for optimising water use and methods of reuse in our brewing operations where possible.
  • Working with farmers: We’re working closely with small-scale farmers in Taung to ensure optimal irrigation through the measurement of soil moisture.
  • Improving technology: Partnering with the University of the Free State we’re supporting research to determine optimal irrigation levels for barley and computerized irrigation, which should help to save water and electricity in irrigation operations.
  • Project Eden: Through a partnership with Rhodes University we’re improving our effluent standards. By using wetland and algae techniques we’re finding ways to transform our effluent to be usable for farming and other uses.
  • Let the River Flow Project: We’re contributing through a public-private partnership to rehabilitate the Wilge River in the Free State, clearing pollution and thus allowing the local community to access quality drinking water.

Working within the framework of the SWPN allows us to share our learnings, collaborate and gain knowledge and best-practice from others in the network.

It is hoped that our actions within the SWPN now will significantly contribute to a more sustainable tomorrow for all.

Do you have any comments or questions about the SWPN? Share them below.