Team keeps eye on tidal plant

Buoys are attached to a pipe, which will be floated out to sea before being dropped to the ocean floor.

An oversight committee has been established to monitor the development of the desalination plant adjacent to Strandfontein tidal pool.

Nine members were nominated to serve on the committee after a desalination information session at Strandfontein community hall on Tuesday January 23.

Tomorrow, Thursday February 1, the nominees will meet with representatives of the City of Cape Town to elect a committee and discuss their role as an oversight body.

Last week Fazloodien Abrahams, a Portland resident and director of TNK Attorneys and Conveyancers based in Portland, proposed that a committee be established.

His company pledged to run an awareness programme and educate the community on the Bill of Rights to live a sustainable life.

Mr Abrahams also proposed that local, provincial and national government be held legally accountable for upholding the rights of its citizens.

He said matters could be addressed in writing rather than in “an emotive” manner, “which is not conducive to dialogue”.

“Stand together, form an organisation that we keep them accountable on a legal level and any other way to ensure our constitutional rights are protected,” he said.

He also asked about the local workforce being involved in the construction, maintenance and break-down of the two-year, temporary desalination plant, which is the size of a rugby field.

During the meeting last week residents complained that they were not consulted or given a heads-up that their recreational area would be a construction site.

Sean Gordon, chairperson of Strandfontein Lifesaving Club, said they were not consulted and that their life saving launch pad has been taken over by construction.

He said they served a crowd of up to 10000 bathers on New Year’s Day. “People’s lives could be on the line and we are none the wiser,” he said.

Gaironesa Diedericks, from Strandfontein, asked how the tender was allocated and whether the local community benefited in terms of employment at the site.

Last year the City of Cape Town announced that it had earmarked seven projects as part of the first phase of the City’s additional water supply programme: these include desalination plants at Strandfontein, Monwabisi, the V&A Waterfront and the Cape Town Harbour; aquifer projects in Atlantis and at the Mitchell’s Plain Waste Water Treatment Works; and the Zandvliet water recycling project, which will collectively produce an additional 196 million litres per day between February and July.

Desalination is a process that produces fresh drinking water by removing salt and impurities from salt water.

The Strandfontein and the Monwabisi plants are Salt Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO), whereby sea water is abstracted offshore and conveyed to the plant via a pipeline.

The plant produces high-quality drinking water from the sea water and injects it straight into the City’s water reticulation network.

The waste product from this desalination process is called brine and is simply highly concentrated salt water.

This is conveyed back to the sea via a pipeline, and released into the ocean through a diffuser which is designed to ensure that any potential environmental impact is limited.

The Strandfontein plant site preparation has commenced and is due to produce 7 million litres of water per day when in full production starting in March.

Wynard Wessels, project manager for Water Solutions Proxa JV, during the meeting gave a project oversight, explaining the plant location and the community’s involvement.

The project is split into two phases – construction, which should take about three months – and operations for about two years.

“It is prefabricated and is temporary, which calls for little site works with a small workforce,” he said.

Mr Wessels said a community liaison officer (CLO), will be employed from the sub-council’s expanded public works programme (EPWP) database. The sub-council will submit three candidates who will be interviewed.

The CLO is due to start work tomorrow, February Thursday 1 for three months.

He explained that civil works sub-contractors would hire local contractors, who are compliant operators and drivers, with valid medical fitness certificates, licences and competency certificates. The vehicles and the plant must be in good working condition, roadworthy and licensed and a valid letter of good standing to prove the drivers, operators and other workers are insured.

Local labourers will be needed for hand excavation, pipe laying, general material handling and concrete pouring – up to six people; four people for laying pipes; and four people for electrical installation.

Eight people, four skilled and four semi-skilled, will also be needed to work at the plant.

Waste removal and sanitation and security will also be needed, he said.

Mr Wessels said matriculants will be able to work at Proxa during the school holidays, visit their offices, laboratories and manufacturing sites.

He said they will discuss community responsibility projects with the local leadership.