Expert lobbies for mega desalination plant in Cape Town
A desalination expert is urging the City of Cape Town to seriously consider building a large-scale desalination plant as the Western Cape’s economy depends on it.
CAPE TOWN - A desalination expert is urging the City of Cape Town to seriously consider building a large-scale desalination plant as the Western Cape’s economy depends on it.
Dam levels are dwindling, and the city is pulling the trigger on temporary small-scale plants across the peninsula in an effort to augment the water supply.
Higher volume plants come with a hefty price tag and it’s a tricky balancing act for authorities.
Desalination expert Dawid Bosman, however, warns it can cost much more than it should if it’s built as a drought response measure.
Bosman says the estimate presented to city bosses about two years ago was over the top.
"Large-scale seawater reverse osmosis, I’m quite convinced that it can be achieved very much cheaper."
Capetonians are being urged to save as much water as possible with dam levels are hovering above 36%.
The first of about a dozen temporary desalination plants are expected to go online in February.
The city’s water Mayco member Xanthea Limberg says they will continue with their plans for smaller-scale decal plants dotted around the peninsula.
"The first desalination will be brought online in February 2018 and those will be Monwabisi and Strandfontein."
A permanent site will later be established at Cape Town Harbour as all the key infrastructure is already in place.
About 300 million litres of water will be pumped into Cape Town’s water supply once all the small-scale desalination plants are built.
But this could take a few years.
Bosman is adamant a multi-billion-rand plant is the safest way to secure water supply for the future.
He warns, just the threat alone of a city being low on water is enough to drive investors away.
"Developments have stalled, licences for new factories, food processing plants, bottling plants, breweries are not going ahead. There are reports of significant job losses in the agricultural sector."
But Mayor Patricia de Lille is convinced the planned desalination plant at Cape Town Harbour will have a big enough output.
"The mega-plant that we are looking at for more permanent use is at the Cape Town Harbour and the planning for that has started already. That will produce about 50 million litres of water per day."
For desalination plants to be economically viable they must never be mothballed as has been the case in Sedgefield and Mossel Bay.
(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)