Durban desalination plant mooted
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Pretoria - The eThekwini municipality may become the first in the country to build a large-scale seawater desalination plant, the water affairs department said on Wednesday.
“We are quite advanced in investigating (desalination) options in eThekweni,” the department's acting director general Trevor Balzer told reporters in Pretoria.
He was responding to a question about the newly-released Second National Water Resources Strategy approved by Cabinet last week.
On assuring future supply, the document states that “the desalination of seawater, on a large scale, is imminent”.
Balzer said details, including building costs, designs, and timelines, were not immediately available. However a feasibility study for such a desalination plant had been completed by state-owned agency Umgeni Water.
“In fact, Umgeni Water... has completed a feasibility study around the options for a supplementary water supply in eThekweni using desalination as that option.”
Balzer said the City of Cape Town was also looking at large-scale desalination to augment its water supply.
While several coastal towns around South Africa Ä including Sedgefield and Mossel Bay in the Southern Cape, and the West Coast town of Bitterfontein Ä had built small plants, no large-scale desalination operations had been built to date.
One of the reasons is they consume a lot of energy.
Speaking at the briefing, Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa warned on the cost of desalination.
“Desalination is a very expensive option,” she said.
However, her department was not ruling it out, and research was being done on how to bring down the cost.
According to the strategy: “The cost of water at the coast will, over the long-term, increase and approach the cost of desalination of seawater.”
According to the document water requirements in the KwaZulu-Natal coastal metropolitan area already exceed the available supply by 65 million cubic metres a year. - Sapa