Water resilience: City moves on water solutions call as worst drought in 100 years chokes Cape

2017-06-19 09:35 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - While an 80% chance of rain is possible on Monday 19 June, the chances that the Western Cape’s water crisis will be solved this winter is unlikely.  

The city previously confirmed it would take at least three consecutive winters of above-average rainfall to make a real difference to the availability of surface water.  

As a result the City of Cape Town says it is on a drive to build water resilience and has since requested possible temporary water solutions, as it aims to take a new approach to water management.

SEE: Cape Town Water Crisis: It will at least take three rainfalls to make a real difference

The resolution was made at the May Council meeting, with a formal request opened on the City's Website on Monday 19 June 2017 - click here to apply.

The call is for proposed solutions that will enable the City to "temporarily establish several small, intermediate and possibly even large plants to supply potable water".

The city says it is up-scaling its efforts to secure new sources of temporary water supplies - and is aiming to have the first plants, based on the proposals, available for production of potable water solutions towards the end of August 2017.

‘Reverse osmosis, desalination, or similar technology’

Some of the ideas on the table include plants that could use reverse osmosis, desalination, or similar technology from sea water, other surface water sources or treated run-off, says the City.

SEE: Cape Water Crisis: Surrounded by ‘two oceans’, is desalination the solution?

Traveller24 previously reported on a desalination company GrahamTek - 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.

GrahamTek said at the time it had the capacity to provide immediate emergency relief; as well bring capacity up to 100 million litres per day within 4 months - this is however double the time estimate given by the city. 

Head of business development for GrahamTek, Tom Callaghan says while the company has not heard back from the City,  it hopes this is part of the due process and that it would certainly be resubmitting its proposal. 

The company is also 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

The  City states its requirement is for solutions that can produce between 100 million litres and 500 million litres of potable water per day - confirming both for-profit and non-profit entities would be considered, with the "option to form possible partnerships" with the City.

“This would be to supply, install, and operate temporary plants at various locations along the sea shore and at certain inland locations, for the injection of potable water – the standards of which are defined by SANS 241 of 2011 – into the City’s water distribution network.”

Plants would be required to be operational for "at least six months, “but might require the plants to be in operation for a longer period of time”.

“Responses to this RFI will help guide the City in determining the appropriate sourcing strategy in relation to future initiatives. The closing date for responses is 10 July 2017. Detailed information on the RFI, including the response template, can be on found on the City’s website." 

 New Water Resilience Task Team

The City says the temporary installation of water plants is intended to build resilience and to ensure that the households and businesses of Cape Town are not adversely affected by acute shortages of surface water.  The City says it will conduct regular water quality tests at each of these sites.  

Added to this a new Water Resilience Task Team under the leadership of the Chief Resilience Officer,  has been put in place to “augment the City’s response to drought, ensuring that acute water shortages are avoided, and transforming Cape Town’s water landscape into one that ultimately relies less on surface water”.

The city warned Level 4 water restrictions were still in place and that each person must use less than 100 litres of water a day, as per the requirements of the Level 4 water restrictions.

Mayor Patricia De Lille says, “The drought is not a one-solution problem. More permanent solutions will be announced in the coming months. 

“Being resilient in an urban environment means that we have the capacity as individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kind of acute stresses and shocks we experience.”

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