The 5 R’s in the water cycle: Reduce, Renew, Reuse, Recycle and Return.

15 May 2019
14:00 PM - 15:15 PM
Room - Freesia

The 5 R’s in the water cycle: Reduce, Renew, Reuse, Recycle and Return.


Water is perhaps the most crucial resource, and the demand for water is increasing, but so does the water scarcity. In South Africa, less than 15 % of water is reused, and the water consumption per capita is twice the amount compared to Denmark, which has succeeded in decoupling water consumption and growth. This demonstrates the necessity of implementation of the 5 Rs in households, industries and the urban water distribution system throughout South Africa to ensure access to clean and sufficient water now and in the future. Both households and Industries can mitigate risks related to water by taking the 5Rs approach that is to reduce, renew, reuse, recycle/reclaim and return as part of water conservation and water demand management.

  • Reduce water usage through awareness
  • Renew inefficient usage by installing new technologies
  • Reuse water within the same or another process e.g. processes with a lower water quality demand
  • Recycle or reclaim water by collecting used water (waste water) and installing treatment technology to meet quality demands for reuse in the same process or another process
  • Return water to the recipient

This session will facilitate a dialogue on how regulation and technology innovation hand in hand can develop effective water conservation and demand management.

Moderator: Jørgen Erik Larsen, Sector Counsellor Water, Energy, Research and Innovation, Danish Embassy

Panel composition:

# Nordic Panellist Company/Institution Country
1. Mr Olli-Matti Verta Ministry of Environment and Agriculture Finland
2. Mr Stefan Multing Digpro Sweden


Mr Henrik M Hestbech


Environmental Protection Agency




# South African Panellist    
1. Ms Moloko Raletjena Department of Water and Sanitation South Africa
2. Mr Kevin Cilliers National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa
3. Mr Michael John Webster City of Cape Town South Africa





Format of the session and questions for the panellists



The session will last 75 minutes and will be structured as follows

Time What Who Comments
14:00 -14:05 Brief introduction Moderator  
14:05 – 14:35 5 minute pitches by panellists Panellists Moderator will decide the order
14:35 – 15:10 Moderated interactive discussion including audience All Pre-formulated questions and questions from the audience
15:10 – 15:15 Brief wrap up Moderator  


Pre-formulated questions:

In the Nordic countries, we have managed to decouple our water consumption from the economic growth and have reduced consumption close to 50 % over the last 25 years (DK 100 L / capita/day – as opposed to 230 in RSA).

What do you believe would be the most important measures to see the same development in South Africa/Southern Africa?


In the Nordic context, strict and well policed regulation coupled with a good public – private dialogue has worked very well in terms of introducing behavioural change in resource consumption – water – energy – chemicals. And additionally that regulation consequently is pushing innovation of technological solutions to support the WSAs and the industries to meet their regulatory benchmarks.

What works best – the stick or the carrot?


The water services providers – especially smaller municipalities with a high concentration of wet industries are dependent on the revenue they can collect from selling water to the industries – and would in fact not be very happy if the industries step forward and declare they will reduce their consumption with 50%.

What solutions do you see to this dilemma?


It has often been said that no policy, legislative and regulatory framework will ever get better than the institutional setup you construct to implement it.

If you could change one institutional structure / mandate in your sector tomorrow – what would you do?