Alex Rose-Innes

A passion for the environment saw a SA woman’s dream change many lives.

After 15 years as full professor at a South African university, specialising in extremophiles, subsurface bio-geochemistry, water quality and bio-remediation*, Esta van Heerden’s concern for the future of the environment, led her to start a unique and ground-breaking enterprise, iWater Pty Ltd.

(*See explanation of terms at the end of article.)

Many African female entrepreneurs start their businesses after noticing a need. It is the same with Prof van Heerden who believes that everyone should have access to clean water. She is also adamant that those companies polluting the environment should be forced to rectify it.

Esta had been heading iWater since 2017 and the company had become known as an expert in bio-remediation.  Her team had already won two professional development programme platforms and established themselves firmly as biotechnology leaders in environmental clean-up. The team is highly qualified and apply their knowledge to develop, establish and roll-out turn-key, sustainable solutions to save our natural resources. Each programme is worked out specifically to a client’s individual needs.

Since its inception, iWater had not only offered the best technology solutions for water clean-up programmes, but had also showcased their technology. The team designs builds and operate the cost-effective technology of which the success is guaranteed.


“What inspired me was dwindling water qualities in SA and the impact it has on the economy and people.” – Prof Esta van Heerden

Prof Van Heerden spent 15 years developing and researching these technologies and understands how to implement the technology successfully. The iWater team does not believe in consulting, but instead in rolling up their sleeves to ensure the technology is successfully applied.

She said in an interview with Lionesses of Africa that her company now offers the best endorsed technology associated with biological clean-up systems (bio-remediation), representing a new approach to treatment of pollutants. These unique and 100% fail-safe systems are integrated and supported with tailor-made, site-specific selections of chemical treatment components not used currently in South Africa and packaged into mobile modular plants to be used at client sites.

Values and ethics are a non-negotiable aspect of Esta’s approach to her work. She fully believes that decisions should be based on ethical and resourceful insights. For her, understanding life and its control from several aspects is very exciting. She believes that it allows humanity to utilise biotechnological knowledge to improve the lives of people across the globe.

Explanation of terms (Oxford Dictionary):

Extremophile – a micro-organism living in conditions of extreme temperature, acidity, alkalinity, or chemical concentration. Its presence is indicative of poor water quality

Subsurface bio-geochemistry – the missing link between ecology and hydrology in dam-impacted river corridors

Bio-remediation – the use of either naturally occurring or deliberately introduced micro-organisms to consume and break down environmental pollutants in order to clean a polluted site.