Cape Town – A R60 million desalination plant capable of producing 2 million litres of potable water a day, paid for by ratepayers, has been sitting dormant at the V&A Waterfront for the past three weeks.
It is believed there is a contractual dispute between contractors and the City of Cape Town, which owns the plant.
The mayoral committee member for Water and Waste Services, Xanthea Limberg, said: “The matter is currently in a formal mediation process, and as such details may not be provided at this stage.”
According to reports, the plant could not produce desalinated water at times due to turbidity and algae blooms, which are natural occurrences. Turbidity refers to the degree to which water loses its transparency due to the presence of suspended particles.
The plant began producing water at the end of May last year.
Sandra Dickson from lobby group Stop Coct visited after she found out the plant was non-operational.
“The owners of the desalination plants do not get any money if they are not producing water.
“With all the problems with the quality of water they surely cannot produce at full capacity,” she said.
Dickson added that she found it strange that the problem had only affected the plant at the V&A Waterfront.
“It is safe to surmise that the dispute and mediation must be around this – though this has not been publicly stated by anyone.
“Strange that this affects the Waterfront only. Why are the Strandfontein and Monwabisi plants not in the same boat? They all received the same contracts.
“Monwabisi also had huge problems with water quality as it is exactly in an area where sewage is pumped into the sea,” she said.
The management of the V&A Waterfront said it was not involved in the dispute.
“We are not party to the dispute between the city and the contractor for the city’s temporary desalination plant located at the V&A.
“We have made the land available, at no cost, to the city to locate the plant for a limited time,” said spokesperson Donald Kau.
The tender for the desalination plant was awarded to Quality Filtration Systems in January last year. It was fully operational by mid-May.
The plant was expected to add 2 million litres of water a day to the city’s water supply system and forms part of a longer-term plan to ensure water security as dams are now more vulnerable to the effects of drought.
ANC city caucus leader Xolani Sotashe said: “We warned them about these desalination plants and they wouldn’t listen.
“The city must account fully for the wasted millions of rand. We are not interested in their disputes; all we are interested in is for them to tell us what happened to the promised land.”