Plant up and running

Cape Town deputy Mayor Ian Neilson tests the water during a site visit to the desalination plant in Strandfontein.

As of Monday May 21, a temporary desalination plant in Strandfontein has been delivering high-quality, treated desalinated water into the supply system.

The City said the plant was injecting 4.7 million litres a day into the reticulation system and it is expected that full production of 7 million litres will come online by next month.

The reverse osmosis desalination plant in the Waterfront area is close to producing two million litres of drinking water a day while progress on the desalination plant at Monwabisi is also progressing well, with first water expected to be delivered by June and full production to be reached by July, if all goes according to plan, the City added.

This plant is set to produce 7 million litres a day.

These projects provide only a small contribution of the daily water requirements of the City and forms part of the City of Cape Town’s efforts to make additional water available without only relying on rainfall to fill the dams.

However, the City said, the most effective way to keep Day Zero away was to continue to reduce water use.

Dam levels are currently at 21.1%, with the average weekly consumption at 525 million litres of collective usage. The target is 450 million litres. To get through the current drought, people need to keep reducing water usage and manage water that is left in the supply system through the City’s pressure management programmes and continued emphasis on fixing leaks to reduce water losses.

According to a media release issued by the City, they had gained much new knowledge over the past year and as a result, their “resilience programme” had evolved.

“This knowledge is informing the current programme,” the City said, highlighting the following:

Sustainable groundwater extraction is cheaper, specifically for large yields. “Our approach remains conservative to ensure we maximise the water yield sustainably at the lowest possible cost. Importantly, the system design for groundwater extraction can only be finalised once yield and quality are established in the various clusters.”

Temporary desalination and re-use should not be pursued further as emergency solutions as this is not affordable, and rarely provides the promised volumes of water.

For future resilience, permanent desalination and water reuse are recommended as alternative sources of water to add to ground and surface water supply sources.

The City intends producing close to 100 million litres a day of additional water available by December and to ramp this up to over 150 million litres a day by April next year.