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Cape desalination plants takes a final bow

The Monwabisi desalination plant is being decommissioned as the two-year pe­riod for which it was hired has come to an end.

Decommissioning of its counterpart in Strandfontein already commenced in June this year, and is currently underway.

The City commissioned both the Monwabisi and Strandfontein temporary desalination plants to provide emergency water supply in the event that it was needed, as we faced the prospect of Day Zero.

“The Monwabisi temporary desalina­tion plant bids farewell at a very different time to when it was first commissioned during the worst drought in the Cape. Dam levels have recently reached 98,2% as of 21 September,” the City stated in a media release on Monday 28 September.

“The City has also made big strides towards implementation of larger schemes, as outlined in our water strategy. The first water from the Table Mountain Group Aquifer abstraction programme has al­ready come online, contributing around 15 million litres of groundwater per day to our water supply.

“Operation of these plants has provided valuable hands-on experience in producing desalinated water, which will help us as we work towards larger scale desalination projects. The experience taught us a lot about the management of a desalina­tion plant, and built confidence that this is a viable way of reliably producing good quality drinking water,” said Xanthea Limberg, Mayco member for water and sanitation in the City.

“Once the plant has been shut down, the infrastructure will be removed in phases by the contractor. Timeframes for the removal of infrastructure will largely be dependent on the weather and sea condi­tions. During this time, public access to sections of the area may be limited, at short notice, depending on the scope of the work.

The area on which the plant was built will be restored to its former condition.

“An environmental control officer will monitor the rehabilitation work,” she said.

According to Limberg, local community members were given work opportunities throughout the duration of the project, from construction right through to the operation of the desalination plant.

“Residents are advised that it is likely there will be a slight change to the taste of water as supply shifts back to surface water, but are assured that the strict Sans241 standards remain in place and that the water remains safe to drink.”

Limberg said the drought showed that the City needed to accelerate diversifica­tion of water sources quickly. “The strategy for doing so is outlined in the City’s water strategy, which seeks to ensure that Cape Town will be more resilient to climate change. The City is committed to increasing supply by building affordable new capacity of approximately 300 million litres per day over the next 10 years.

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