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Expert: Desalination plant a good long-term solution for CT

City bosses have a three-pronged approach to stave off so-called day zero, desalination, tapping into aquifers and treating effluent.

FILE: Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille visits the V&A Waterfront Desalination Plant in the drought-stricken city. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A University of Cape Town (UCT) water expert says that a desalination plant is a good long-term solution to prevent Cape Town's taps from running dry in the future.

City bosses have a three-pronged approach to stave off so-called day zero - desalination, tapping into aquifers and treating effluent.

LISTEN: 7 myths about the CT water crisis

UCT’s Future Water Institute’s Kevin Winter says: “What I’m really hoping is that we will be able to look for long-term plans rather than short-term emergency projects. A long-term desalination plant will help in addressing climate change.”

Academics have warned authorities not to rely too heavily on groundwater to address the water crisis in the city.

Stellenbosch University’s Dr Jodie Miller says that taking too much water from the ground could create supply problems in future.

Miller says that without rain there’s no way the underground water can keep flowing.

“Every time you abstract ground water you are readjusting the balance within the groundwater system.”

University of Kansas professor Randy Stotler agrees. He points to a major US drought in the 50s where authorities drained the Ogallala aquifer.

The water bridged the gap, but the negative effects of that decision are still being felt almost 70 years later.

“We put in far too many extraction wells and drew the water table down to the point that we lost surface flow in our streams, and are now to the point where a lot of farmers are no longer able to use the resource for irrigation.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)