Mamphela Ramphele misinformed about Cape Town water plans

Dr Mamphela Ramphele
Dr Mamphela Ramphele

Dear Dr Ramphele,

The City of Cape Town notes your concern regarding the so-called "halting" of desalination projects in Cape Town. However, you have been misinformed. Your column wrongly creates the impression that plans for such a permanent plant were under way but have since been shelved. 

The temporary desalination plants (Monwabisi, Strandfontein and Waterfront) are all operational and the water is being injected into the reticulation system. They were part of the City’s drought emergency response and are making good on the promise to deliver a reliable alternative water supply. The City’s latest Water Outlook document refers to the consideration of permanent desalination as part of Cape Town’s water mix going into the future, along with other sources. 

Cape Town is a growing city and desalination offers a drought-proof water source. As such, desalination is highly likely to form part of Cape Town’s future water mix. These small temporary desalination plants that are in operation are allowing the City to gain valuable experience with the technology, and will aid decision-making on larger-scale permanent desalination infrastructure that may be required in future.

Longer-term planning and assessment of Cape Town’s water augmentation strategy is under way which will guide future development in consultation with all concerned. We will soon make those plans available for public consideration.

The key to Cape Town’s water resilience will lie in the diversification of water resources, thereby making Cape Town less dependent on rainfall as the primary source of potable water. We have to consider ALL water sources in addition to the historical supply from surface water sources.

Key focus areas over the medium to long term:

-       saving water (water conservation and demand management): it is cheap and it makes sense. This programme will continue through ongoing communication, awareness and behavioural campaigns as well as our advanced pressure management programme which is saving almost 70 million litres of water per day as we create more pressure zones
-       water re-use 
-       groundwater extraction 
-       permanent desalination 
-       creating a water-sensitive city 


Alderman Ian Neilson,
Executive Deputy Mayor, 
City of Cape Town

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Is social media doing more harm than good?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, our children are exposed and we can't protect them
49% - 5405 votes
Yes, but social media is part of the new reality
45% - 4976 votes
No, it's great for growing a child's world view
5% - 571 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo