Plant proposal evaluated

2016-02-17 06:00

A PROPOSAL to build a desalination plant on the Illovo River in the next five years is being evaluated by Umgeni Water. The aim of the plant is to cope with the demand for water in the Upper South Coast.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) public consultation took place last year, but only 12 people attended, probably because it was advertised in The Mercury and not in local papers.

The main intake pump-station would be situated alongside “The Boardwalk” in Winklespruit and sea water would be extracted from a point one kilometre out to sea.
From here, there are three alternate pipeline routes up the Lovu River to the desalination plant. The proposed site for the plant is alongside Mother of Peace children’s home on the south bank of the river, near the old sugar mill.

From an environmental impact point of view, many people do not realise that ocean ecological services are being compromised in an increasing manner,major ecosystem decline continues, largely because of overfishing and pollution, and is further impacted by global warming. Oceans are definitely finite and are destructible.

In terms of the proposed desalination plant, ocean water and billions of planktonic life forms will be sucked into the plant inlet and die 24/7.

Potable water is the useful output from desalination plants, however, highly concentrated salt brine is toxic to life and this will be pumped back into the ocean via a discharge point 600 metres off-shore, and this will add to the ecosystem destruction.

Of further concern is that the Illovo bank is the breeding ground for 74, a particularly vulnerable and protected species of fish along our coast. For interest, the Aliwal Shoal Marine Protected Area (MPA) is in the process of being extended, the new northern boundary is to be the south bank of the Lovu River.
In the desalination process 55% of the water is available for use and 45% of the water, with a high salt content, is returned to the sea.

If the project goes ahead, this would be the largest plant of this type in South Africa. There are many similar plants around the world, including Perth in Australia, and the Middle East.
Another downside of this scheme is the high consumption of electricity, a scarce resource, as well as the increased atmospheric pollution from our coal-fired power stations.

There is a proposal to build the Smithfield Dam on the Umkomaas River near Hela-Hela. Water from this system would be fed via a tunnel to Baynesfield, and would then find its way into the Umgeni River for use in the central and north side of eThekweni, but not in the south side where the future need will arise.

For further information, contact Angus Pyke on 074 951 4267.
- Supplied.

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