IMIESA August 2020

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When lockdown necessitated the introduction of virtual audits, opportunities arose for innovation, improved processes and future methodologies. By Danielle Petterson


Virtual audits hold new opportunities

outh Africa’s Blue, Green and No Drop programmes received worldwide recognition for their incentive-based regulation approach. Although the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has not enforced these programmes for several years, numerous municipalities and water utilities

WHY CONDUCT GREEN DROP AUDITS? • Drive consistency in performance and continuous progress in wastewater services management • Ensure legislative compliance for wastewater operations and management • Facilitate a competitive environment with incentive to excel and perform • Continuously identify gaps in knowledge, infrastructure, systems, coupled with external expertise to make recommendations to address the gaps • Forge proactive and informed planning • Ensure a high state of readiness as/when the DWS requires national audits to recommence


IMIESA August 2020

have adopted the Green Drop (GD) audit criteria as an internal standard to measure and drive continuous improvement in wastewater management. One such organisation is ERWAT, which provides bulk wastewater conveyance and treatment to thousands of industries and more than 3.5 million people. A consortium appointed by ERWAT under a three-year contract has been conducting GD audits for the organisation. This consortium is headed jointly by Water Group Holdings and AHL Water, supported by specialist subconsultant Emanti Management, which provides IT and development support, and brings vast auditing experience to the table. The consortium is responsible for: • quarterly GD audits of ERWAT’s 19 wastewater treatment works (WWTWs) • development, implementation and tracking of Wastewater Risk Abatement Plans • development, implementation and tracking of GD Improvement Plans for all 19 WWTWs • quarterly reporting of GD performance to top management and its municipal partners to ensure continuous improvement in the operation and management of the WWTWs • intermittent training as/where knowledge gaps are identified. “We must applaud ERWAT for having a vision to continue with GD audits. In this

way, ERWAT continues to drive its internal performance objectives and remains in a state of readiness when the DWS announces continuance of the national GD programme,” says Marlene van der Merwe-Botha, director, Water Group Holdings.

Introducing the virtual audit The consortium’s final year 3 quarter 4 audits, for the period April to June 2020, fell during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. Given the travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, remote auditing was the best option. According to Ayesha Laher, director, AHL Water, specifications for remote auditing are already included in ISO 19011:2018 – Guidelines for auditing management systems. A remote audit includes all aspects of the conventional audit utilising internet platforms such as Skype or Zoom and cloud-based data sharing services such as Mimecast, Dropbox and OneDrive. The team followed an approach of targeted verification audits, preceded by an online audit conducted on information shared online, as outlined in Figure 1. According to Shawn Moorgas, director, Emanti Management, preparation was essential for the success of the virtual audit process. The consortium team wrote up a