WISA Conference Explores Desalination

The honourable MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs for KwaZulu-Natal, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, told media gathered at the opening press briefing of WISA 2016 that all options – including that of desalination – are being considered in a bid to ensure continuous water availability for South Africans.

The option of desalination – a process in which salt is extracted from sea water – has been a leading topic of discussion in the industry for many years but is now being further researched due to the water shortage brought on by the current drought.

MEC Dube-Ncube said the consideration of this international initiative was to ensure that the lack of water had no lasting effects on the various sectors of South Africa.

“For us, as we are gravely affected by the drought, this is a step forward. We have already done the Environmental Impact Assessments, we have them in place and we have already looked at the industry. We are currently looking at the small package plants, where this could be affordable, along the coastal municipalities.

"This is because we do believe that if we could enable our region to operate in the way in which our coastal municipalities explore desalination, while our inland areas are provided with water through our normal reticulated system, that could begin to alleviate some of the pressures we are already experiencing.”

Also present at the briefing was Margaret-Ann Diedricks, Director-General of the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Diedricks said while the desalination process is one that is considered to be quite expensive, in times such as this and in water scarce countries such as South Africa, the issue of cost can be negated.

“This is why the minister has been in discussions with various countries, to look at where the technology has evolved to and to find it as inexpensively as possible. The decision has been made to roll-out where it is necessary. The relationship with all other countries such as the Netherlands is about scalability. It is about upscale, it’s about leapfrogging. The time of just talking about the expense has come and gone. We have to look at how do we move towards adaptation and facilitation.”

The WISA 2016 Conference and Exhibition took place from 15-19 May 2016 at the Durban International Convention Centre. It featured more than 100 expert speakers dissecting 16 sub-themes crucial to the effective management of our water resources. The next conference will be in 2018 in Cape Town. Visit the WISA website for more information.