The desalination plant at the V&A Waterfront. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The company in charge of the desalination plant at the Waterfront is taking legal action against the City. 

Quality Filtration Systems (QFS) lodged court papers in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday. 

QFS managing director Herman Smit said: “The plant is still not in operation as the contractual disputes have not been settled. The City has failed to clarify its legal position relative to the water to be injected. QFS have, via their legal advisor, formally advised the City that QFS does not believe the City is meeting its legal obligations to comply with the necessary water safety regulations.”

He said the City should be conducting routine tests of the local sea water quality and identifying any potential health risks. The company is suing the City for breach of contract to the value of R53 million, plus damages. The company claims the City owes it millions in outstanding payments and that it had incurred huge extra costs to clean the seawater after discovering high levels of pollution.

“QFS spent substantial extra capital (circa R8m) and additional operational costs to make sure that the final water is safe to drink. The City does not want to acknowledge their responsibility or pay the extra costs for this treatment. The City had, up until now, claimed that they had no awareness as to the poor feed water quality and have held QFS responsible throughout for the poor sea water condition,” Smit said.

Because of the sensitive nature of the court papers the company has refused to release the document, but said it would be sharing more details of its position in the coming days.

QFS was contracted in January last year to provide one of three desalination plants to provide fresh drinking water using a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant.

The company then entered into mediation with the City for five days. No consensus was reached. The mediation process ended in April. 

According to the company, the City is now blocking the mediation report from being made public.

According to reports, the plant could not produce desalinated water at times due to turbidity and algae blooms, which were natural occurrences. Turbidity refers to the degree to which water loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particles.

The plant began producing water at the end of May last year. The plant has been dormant since January. 

The City has 10 days to file answering papers and did not respond to calls for comment.

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Cape Argus