In this essay I will discuss sea water desalination as a solution to improve water supply in Cape Town. My essay will include: a definition/ description of the process, cost, the amount of water that will be saved or provided and lastly, whether or not the process is an effective solution in improving the water supply
Desalination is a process that removes mineral components from salt water. Salt water is desalinated to provide safe drinking water for people. The first part of the desalination process is for sea water to be filtered to remove particles such as algae and sand. The second part is for the remaining water and salt molecules to be sent through a fine membrane at a high pressure, this is known as osmosis. The energy released from this process is re-used to operate the desalination plant. For every 2 litres of salt water that is pumped, we get 1 litre of pure water, this water is enriched with mineral salts good for human health.
Our largest desalination plant is based in Mossel Bay and was built at the cost of R200 million, and costs R200 000 per month to maintain. The ecological costs of desalination are that concentrated waste is dumped into the ocean and is harmful to marine life and the environment. Desalination plants kill almost 3.4 billion fish and other marine organisms every year, and lastly, the emissions created by desalination plants contribute to climate change.
Desalination plants would produce 190 000 cubic metres of drinking water per day, which is enough to supply 100 000 households. The V&A plant in Cape Town is estimated to add 2 million litres of water every day to the City’s water supply system.
In conclusion, I think that desalination is definitely a process that can effectively be used to supply water in Cape Town in the near future, however, it is very expensive and the cons outweigh the pros. The process harms the environment and this has to be considered before we think about people, because inevitably, we need the environment, it does not need us.