V&A to get new desalination plant for water needs

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V&A Waterfront
V&A Waterfront
Jo-Ann Stokes, Getty

Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is set to get a new desalination plant to ensure a fresh water supply at the tourism hotspot during any future crisis affecting South Africa’s second-largest city. 

Growthpoint Properties, the country’s biggest listed real estate firm, received approval for the 3.3 megalitre facility and construction will begin in the first quarter of next year, according to a statement on Thursday. The project should be complete by 2024, the Johannesburg-based company said. 

The plan comes four years after a lengthy drought forced authorities to impose strict measures on water consumption to avoid turning off the taps. Water scarcity is a problem in South Africa as a whole, caused by both climate change and mismanagement of infrastructure by local governments.

Small-scale desalination plants were introduced in Cape Town to try and avert a full-blown emergency in 2018, though those were intended for short-term use. 

Growthpoint said tourists are finally starting to return to the V&A after lengthy lockdowns and travel bans linked to the coronavirus crisis. About 1.6 million people visited the scenic retail and dining hub in October, 28% more than in the previous month and close to three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels.

That may improve further with the first cruise ships of the season set to dock at the end of the month, state-owned ports group Transnet SOC Ltd. said in a separate statement. Cape Town’s economy is heavily dependent on holidaymakers, attracted by its iconic Table Mountain, pristine beaches and winelands.

The V&A is also a popular spot for businesses, and Growthpoint is building the new Cape Town headquarters of lender Investec Ltd. in the area. The real estate company is still struggling with the impact of the pandemic on traditional office space, with vacancies in the Johannesburg hub of Sandton rising to 21% in the three months through September.  

- With assistance from Prinesha Naidoo.

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