Municipality keen on desalination plant
The political leadership in Nelson Mandela Bay is pushing for the construction of a desalination plant to help augment the city’s water resources.
Infrastructure and engineering portfolio head Andile Lungisa said on Tuesday he would lobby water and sanitation minister Gugile Nkwinti to speed up the project that could possibly solve the water woes of the city.
Lungisa said construction of the plant was long overdue.
The project, when first mooted years ago, was abandoned due to the exorbitant costs associated with ensuring its success.
The construction of a desalination plant through a privatepublic partnership with Marina Salt and South African Breweries (SAB) was later again mooted by the DA led-administration.
Asked how the municipality would fund this, Lungisa said it would look at a combination of funding models, including government and private investors.
Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the private-public partnership with Marina and SAB was in the evaluation stages with all parties looking at the legalities and tender processes.
Lungisa said: “We have a challenge when it comes to water. As we speak, we are not out of the drought. The issue of climate change has really affected our city.
“Now we must have what we term a long-term solution, and one of the aspects is to be able to use sea water. We will never easily finish sea water,” Lungisa said. He said they would call for expressions of interests and proposals for the project in the next two weeks. “We want to see what will be the best model for the city.
“We are not going to work long.”
Lungisa said the construction of a desalination plant would benefit other nearby municipalities, including Makana, Port Alfred and Kouga, among others.
He added that such a project would not be outsourced.
“This process cannot be outsourced; it must be led by government. We can’t have this done by private companies. The municipality must lead this,” Lungisa said.
Asked if it would abandon the Marina-SAB proposal, Lungisa said it would also be considered.
“No-one is going to be blocked. All proposals will be considered, but water will never be outsourced, it cannot be in the hands of a private individual.
“We have not decided where we are going to build the plant, but there are several possibilities, including up to Jeffreys Bay,” Lungisa said.
According to him, it would be aggressive in managing the drought. “We are very worried about the drought and that is why we have taken the matter to the office of the premier,” Lungisa said.
The city’s dam levels were sitting at a combined average of 49.1% on Monday.
Infrastructure and engineering executive director Walter Shaidi said the rate at which dam levels were dropping was a cause for concern.
“At the time when the report was compiled, the average dam levels were at 51,1%
“When I checked this morning, the average dam levels had gone down to 48.8%,” Shaidi said at an infrastructure and engineering committee meeting on Tuesday.
Shaidi urged residents to continue using water sparingly.
“We have gone below 50% which means we will very soon trigger other mechanisms of restrictions.
“We encourage residents to restrict their usage to less than 15kl because if rains don’t come, the levels are going to drop even further,” Shaidi said.