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The Crucial Role of Industrial Water Treatment Companies

Most of the world’s industrialised nations routinely consume water faster than their purification plants can process it for reuse. The practice is putting increasing pressure on the planet’s untapped reserves. In South Africa, the threat of an impending crisis has been compounded by the blatant evidence of climate change that led to the recent “Zero Day” drought in the Mother City. A temporary desalination plant saved the people of the Western Cape from this near disaster, and industrial water treatment companies are striving to replenish the nation’s dwindling reserves.


The agricultural sector uses more vital life-giving liquid than all other consumers combined and more than twice that city dwellers consume. Much of the wastewater from farms will be returned to the earth, often heavily contaminated by pesticides, artificial fertilisers and animal waste. Nevertheless, these contaminants will be largely removed as the effluent filters through the soil, while any finding its way into nearby rivers or streams is likely to become a problem for industrial water treatment companies to resolve.

In practice, despite using less than six per cent of the country’s water, the effluents produced by mines and other heavy industries pose the most significant challenge. For example, refining the ores of gold and other precious metals involves strong acids and large quantities of cyanide, one of the most poisonous known chemicals. In addition, toxic heavy metals are frequent mining waste products, posing a severe threat to the environment and the consumer and an ongoing challenge for industrial treatment companies.

These companies must rely on various technologies to fulfil their vitally important role. Which of these will be most suitable for a given task will depend to some extent on the contents of the effluent that requires treating. Straining, a form of coarse filtration is often necessary as a preliminary step to trap large particles that might otherwise interfere with subsequent processes or cause damage to equipment. Where heavy metals and other toxic chemicals are present, industrial water treatment companies often employ ion exchange resins to remove these selectively. In the case of precious metal residues and other reusable chemicals, the resins can be used to recover them.

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Often these measures are sufficient to allow safe disposal or reuse in selected factory processes. However, a highly purified product is sometimes required for the pharmaceutical or food and beverage industry or as a potable source. More rigorous technologies like reverse osmosis and nanofiltration will be necessary in such cases.

WaterIcon is a leading supplier of filtration technology to industrial treatment companies in South Africa and anyone interested in conserving this vital but increasingly endangered natural resource.