Cape Town Water Crisis: Surrounded by two oceans, is desalination the solution?

2017-06-02 09:45 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Level four water restrictions are now a reality for the City of Cape Town as dams are effectively seeping towards the unusable 10% mark, yet a viable solution exists through desalination.

Every single person in Cape Town and surrounds is being urged to keep water consumption to less than 100 litres per person per day.

The City says key to reaching this level is ensuring that showers do not run for more than two minutes per person, toilets are flushed only when absolutely necessary and with grey water, and all internal plumbing and plumbing fixtures are checked for leaks, according to the city.

“One leaking toilet wastes between 2 600 and 13 000 litres of water per month, depending on the flow rate of the leak.” Read News24’s full report here.

However a possible solution could be the two oceans lapping Cape Town’s very shores.

GrahamTek is a local company that says it has the world’s leading water desalination technology readily available to successfully tackle the city’s current water problems.

And not just for the short-term, but also for the long-term.

The company says it is currently in final design stages of plants in India and Saudi Arabia totalling 800 million litres per day and pumping desalinated water over distances of more than 700 km. A conservative estimate sees the city using about 666 million litres of water a day currently.

SEE: #JourneyofWater: This precious resource doesn't come from a tap

But with this global leading desalination technology, GrahamTek says it  can provide immediate emergency relief; as well bring capacity up to 100 million litres per day within 4 months.

The company has partnered with the global engineering firm Du Pont, consulting on the world’s largest desalination plants in the Middle East where each of these plants produce more than 1 000 million litres per day - which is clearly more than enough to solve the current water issues.

“For Cape Town, this is an opportunity to begin turning the impact of the drought around, even before the end of the year,” says GrahamTek CEO, Julius Steyn.

Steyn says the company, which is based out in Strand and has over 20 years’ experience, “is eager to team up with the City to relieve the stress on current limited water supply”.

‘Emergency relief which can be implemented almost immediately’

“Last week we presented a white paper to the City of Cape Town, proposing a range of solutions to Cape Town’s water crisis. These range from emergency relief which can be implemented almost immediately, to a much longer term, permanent desalination solution,” says Steyn.

“Desalination offers a long-term capacity building solution that will secure drought-proof water supply for the City, and in so doing meet the City objectives of developing a water economy.”

But he emphasizes the need to act fast.

SEE: Before-and-after PICS: Western Cape's Theewaterskloof Dam looks dire

However it raises the issue of cost, both for the city and water users? According to Tom Callaghan, Head of business development at GrahamTek says they would be able to implement within current municipal rates.

“There will be no large upfront capital expenditure or risk for the City as  GrahamTek offers to design, build, finance, insure, manage and operate the plants, including the civil infrastructure required up to a distribution point, offering the water of SANS 241 standard to the City,” says Callaghan.

“Drought-proof water supply”

He says GrahamTek has proposes to deploy temporary modular and fully mobile 20 million litres per day desalination plants at strategic locations to rapidly supplement the City’s water supply without the need to build time-consuming bulk infrastructure.

The bulk infrastructure for larger more permanent plants could be constructed in parallel, says Steyn, “providing up to 450 million litres per day, nearly two thirds of Cape Town’s current requirement”.

“This highly flexible phased delivery will provide an augmented, non-conflicting and temporary disaster relief solution that could, in future, be converted at the City’s discretion to a long-term infrastructure asset and water source that is unlimited and drought-proof”.

GrahamTek says it has also presented a similar proposal to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality last week to help tackle their looming water crisis. 

Traveller24 has contact the City of Cape Town to confirm if there is an intended plan to implement an emergency desalination solution and is awaiting their response. 

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