Call for comment on proposed desalination plant
Durban - The Department of Environmental Affairs is calling for public comment after it recently granted an environmental authorisation for a proposed desalination plant in the north of eThekwini near oThongathi.
Desalination refers to the process of removing salt from seawater to make it fit for human consumption.
Umgeni Water - the applicants in the project - stressed that while the environmental authorisation had been granted, there was no intention to construct a desalination plant in the north or south of eThekwini at this stage.
Spokesperson for Umgeni Water, Shami Harichunder, said that in terms of legislative requirements, once authorisation was provided, the public had to be notified to have the opportunity to appeal. “This was the intention for the publication of the advertisement at the weekend.
“As stated, the Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme (BWSS) has obviated the need for desalination in the north in the short to medium term, and the proposed Lower uMkhomazi BWSS will be constructed, thereby doing away with the need for a desalination plant in the south in the short to medium term,” Harichunder said.
He said Umgeni Water in 2017 undertook feasibility studies into the possible implementation of desalination plants to augment three of its supply areas - south of Durban between eThekwini and Ugu, north of Durban between eThekwini and iLembe, and Elysium on the South Coast (Ugu).
In the north of Durban, Umgeni Water conducted a detailed feasibility study on establishing a desalination plant in the vicinity of Desainager.
However, during the public engagement process, Harichunder said there was a significant objection. He said the estimated cost (in 2016) of a desalination plant in the north of Durban was R5billion.
Umgeni Water had already concluded a memorandum of agreement with the KwaQiko Traditional Authority for access to land to construct the Ngwadini Dam, a component of the Lower uMkhomazi BWSS.
The calculated capital cost of the Lower uMkhomazi BWSS was estimated at R3bn.
Construction is expected to begin next year with completion due in 2024.