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With the City of Cape Town seeking to introduce further water restrictions from 1 June, city authorities would do well to turn to entrepreneurs from four local startups who have designed innovative solutions.
The four startups last night won a pitching challenge hosted by Stellenbosch University’s LaunchLab to design solutions to tackle water and waste management. Their prize includes incubation and business support from the incubator.
The four — chosen from 11 participants — are:
Bridgiot: which has developed an internet-of-things solutions to provide instant notifications to users on their water usage. The startup is led by Jurie Envee. AlwaysOn founder Nico Pretorius is also involved in the company.
Green Chain Engineering: a startup run by Peter Turner and Styger Kruger who have developed an app and solution that uses a combination of grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting.
Eva Solutions (pictured above): The five founders have developed a solution to lower evaporation from dams using a system of recycled plastic balls that float on the water.
Revolute: A system designed by Jacobus Els and two other colleagues that uses carefully calibrated sensors to measure soil moisture for farmers, thereby helping them to conserve water usage.
The challenge was proposed two months ago in partnership with the Stellenbosch Innovation District. During the event each participant had three minutes to pitch their proposal and a further five minutes to field questions from the judges as well as from the occasional audience member.
‘No silver bullet to crisis’
Speaking at the pitching event last night Israel’s ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk said there was no “single silver bullet” to solving a water crisis. Instead it required a number of strategies including a mix between recycling grey water, desalination and drip irrigation for agriculture.
Lenk detailed how Israel, a largely dry country, has been able to overcome its water challenges. While Israeli today has five desalination plants, Leak advised that there is no need for the Western Cape province to adopt desalination on a wide scale if one is able to reduce leakages and theft of water from 40% to 20% of all water usage.
‘If there was an Olympics for recycling water Israel would win’
He pointed too, to the importance of recycling grey water.
“If there was an Olympics for recycling water Israel would win,” said Lenk, adding that the country recycles 86% of grey water, far ahead of the second placed country Spain, which recycles 20% of grey water.
He said the Israeli and South African governments have a cooperation agreement in place to exchange lessons on tackling water usage, adding that about three SA delegations are expected to attend the upcoming Watec conference to be held in Israel in September.
“If we could do it (tackle water shortages) South Africa can too,” he said.
Lenk was one of the five judges for the challenges. The four other judges were: Stellenbosch University professor and soil scientist Leopoldt van Huyssteen; Saliem Haider from the Stellenbosch Municipality, Yondela Tyawa representing community group the Enkanini Research Centre and water-process engineer Dan Petrie of the Aurecon Group.
Featured image: Eva Solutions founders Jaco Koen, Jeanine Vonkeman, Stellenbosch University professor Leopoldt van Huysteen, Hannes Viljoen, LaunchLab incubation manager Brendon Paschal and Stephan Dreyer.