May 24, 2018

Cape Town's Strandfontein Desalination Plant Launches

The water scarce city is making strides to become more water resilient as water reuse expands

Cape Town launches desalination plant as water reuse expands
Cape Town launches desalination plant as water reuse expands

On May 21, the city of Cape Town, South Africa, announced that the temporary Strandfontein desalination plant is now operational and delivering treated water into the supply system. According to eNews Channel Africa, the plant now is adding 4.7 million liters of water per day into the supply system.

At the desalination plant launch, Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson tasted the plant’s first potable seawater and stressed the need for continued water savings efforts. The reverse osmosis desalination plant in the Waterfront area is close to producing 2 million liters of water per day, and the Monwabisi desalination plant is near completion and expected to be operational in June, Neilson said. Once in full production, the Monwabisi plant will produce 7 million liters per day.

“However, our most effective tool to keep Day Zero away is to continue to reduce our usage,” Neilson said. “We have done well so far, and we must keep up our savings efforts during winter and in preparation for summer 2018/19. We must continue to stretch our existing water supplies as we simply do not know what the actual winter rainfall will be.” 

Day Zero refers to the day the city supply system runs out and is shut off for all but essential buildings–such as healthcare facilities. That fateful day, originally scheduled for May 2018, has been pushed back thanks largely to water conservation efforts by Capetonians. With some reservoir levels still below 20%, residents are still under strict water restrictions. Many residents have turned to greywater recycling and rainwater harvesting as water reuse methods. 

As Cape Town continues to struggle with water insecurity, cities across the world are facing similar threats, including Bangalore, India, and Southern California. By harnessing seawater, water reuse efforts and mending leaky pipes, Cape Town is paving the way for water resilience.