The latest arguments against the construction of desalination plants do not hold water, if you will pardon the pun. The GDPs of Israel and SA are similar, yet Israel has found the resources to build five desalination plants along its Mediterranean coast.
Running costs are another argument. The advanced technologies in Israel’s largest plant, Sorek, allows it to produce 1,000 litres of drinking water — about one week’s use for one person — for R7.80. It is not a matter of the cost of a plant or the running thereof — the issue is the cost to the people living in the city and province if we don’t act now.
Virtually all of the problems associated with the costs of desalination (power supply, brine and filters) have been solved, which is why 40 such plants are running successfully and economically in the US, Israel, China and India, among others.
In 1990 the population of Cape Town was about 1-million. By 2001 it was 2,892,243, and in 2017 it stands at 3,740,026. What will it be in 10 years? It is not going to go down, nor will there be appreciably more rain. Every person who comes into the area puts more strain on this limited resource. When I was a boy in the city 70 years ago, we did not have cooler summers or more rain — we had fewer people.
It will not help to condemn the use of desalination and lull the populace into a false sense of security. We no longer have a choice — we are in the middle of a crisis.