It's pumping in CT: First water desalination plant quenches Cape Town's thirst

It's pumping in CT: First water desalination plant quenches Cape Town's thirst

- The drought in the Western Cape is not over yet, but some forms of relief are being welcomed by the Strandfontein citizens

- The temporary desalination plant will be pumping 3 to 7 million litres of water into the city's water supply

- Two more temporary plants are already near-operational in the Western Cape

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While the Western Cape is still battling through the drought, there are ways to help with the water crisis. One such way is the temporary desalination plant that has started operating on Tuesday in Strandfontein.

At this time the plant will be pumping 3 million litres of water into the city everyday and eventually that number will rise to 7 million litres.

Although this will not help end the water crisis, it offers a little bit of much needed help.

The desalination plant purifies seawater so that it can be safely consumed. The water gets sucked from the ocean and then separated into clean water and brine by using reverse osmosis. The clean water will be pumped into the city's water supply and the brine goes back into the ocean.

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The Cape Town Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson tested the treated water on Monday and was satisfied with the water's quality. According to Neilson it did not taste different than tap or bottled water.

The temporary plant in Strandfontein is one of more such plants that will hopefully add to the water supply until the drought is no longer a problem.

One other plant is located at Monwabisi and is expected to be contributing 7 million litres of treated water per day. The other plant is at the V&A Waterfront but the quality is not yet good enough to consume.

In the end it is only a contribution and we still wait for decent rains this year to ensure that our dams get to decent levels. - Neilson

These desalination plants are only temporary and aren't the first plants to be operating in South Africa. The country's biggest plant is in Mossel Bay and supplies 10 megalitres of drinkable water to the Mossel Bay Municipality.

Neilson does want to build a more permanent plant in the future, but it would take between 2 and 4 years before it would be operational.

In this video share on Facebook the Deputy Mayor can be seen tasting the treated water:


The water from the desalination plant doesn't taste different from tap water, but it is much more expensive. Water from the Strandfontein plant costs R40 per kilolitre, but water from the local dams costs only about R5 per kilolitre.

The best solution for the drought is still nature. Rainwater is the most important resource of water for the city.

We cannot replicate that surface water system that took decades to build here. In the end augmentation schemes are contributions to assisting us through a drought period‚ and also as we get out of a drought period to ensure that we can supply more water than we otherwise would have been able to do.
However, our most effective tool to keep Day Zero away is to continue to reduce our usage. We have done well so far, and we must keep up our savings efforts during winter and in preparation for summer 2018/19. We must continue to stretch our existing water supplies as we simply do not know what the actual winter rainfall will be.

South Africans were happy to welcome the desalination plant.

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