Desalination plant in Bay

SWARTKOPS has been selected as the site for a R750-million water desalination plant which forms part of Nelson Mandela Bay’s emergency drought measures. Desalination

Water and sanitation director Barry Martin told a briefing yesterday Swartkops had been selected because of its location near the old power station which would allow the use of existing infrastructure.

He said environmental studies had been accessed and discussed. No problems were foreseen in that area.

A public participation process would now get under way and preliminary designs and specifications were being prepared.

The aim is to start work in October and complete the project in May next year.

Martin warned that dam levels could drop to 32% from the current 34% by next month, adding weight to suggestions at Tuesday’s Budget and Treasury Committee meeting that the punitive tariff for the consumption of more than 15 kilolitres a month is to be hiked by a “considerable” margin.

Presenting the metro’s drought emergency intervention plan, Martin said consumption had dropped from 283 megalitres a day to 250Ml. This meant the water supply would last longer.

But, he said, the past two years had been the “worst two consecutive years of low rainfall in known history”.

Sketching the actions that had been taken so far, Martin said interventions had started on March 8 this year.

The council gave approval for the declaration of the metro as a disaster area on March 25.

This was published in the provincial gazette on April 23.

This month the metro submitted an application for funding. It was now awaiting an amendment to the Division of Revenue Act that would release the R1,6-billion in funds required and allow projects to start in August.

As far as the weather forecast was concerned, Martin said the projection was for a 40% to 50% chance of below-normal rainfall in May, June and July. He said the metro drought plan included:

A campaign to reduce water consumption.

Maximising the supply from the Nooitgedacht Scheme.

Desalination of sea water at Swartkops.

Accessing groundwater supplies.

Water conservation at schools and at low-income housing units.

Accessing low-level storage in the Impofu Dam.

Promoting the use of rainwater tanks.

As far as the campaign to reduce consumption was concerned, he said an operational centre would be established at 0800205050 by June 1 with staff on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additional staff were being recruited and a response turnaround strategy was being developed.

He said plans were also under way to test boreholes in several parts of the metro – those at Bushy Park could possibly yield 2Ml a day – while fast- tracking the Nooitgedacht Scheme would see completion brought forward to the end of next year.

The cost, Martin said, would be R650-million, while accessing groundwater supplies would cost a further R100-million.

The fast-tracking of the Nooitgedacht Scheme would start in September, he said, and be completed by the end of next year, while groundwater testing would start in September and be completed by March next year

The Herald

Patrick Cull

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