Eskom launches desalination plant

The groundwater desalination plant uses borehole water.

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station has launched a desalination plant making it independent of the City of Cape Town’s water supply.

The mobile groundwater desalination plant was launched on Wednesday February 14 in response to Cape Town’s water crisis, says station manager, Velaphi Ntuli.

“The desalination plant is part of Koeberg’s three-pronged water management strategy to address the current water shortages in the Western Cape while ensuring the plant is able to provide safe and sustainable electricity. This strategy includes reducing the power station’s daily water usage, keeping adequate on-site water storage and looking at alternative water supplies,” said Mr Ntuli.

The desalination plant produces 920m3 (or 920kl) of water a day. This water will be used for, among other things, human consumption in the buildings and areas within the power station’s direct water reticulation network.

“When the City of Cape Town called on the people of the Western Cape to address the water issue, we had to respond with a sustainable solution as a responsible corporate citizen.

“To this end, we have saved approximately 115 000kl since June 2017, compared to the previous averages. This equates to the City of Cape Town supplying 10.5kl of water to approximately 11 000 houses for a month. Our water tanks are kept full to cater for emergencies,” said Mr Ntuli.

On a tour of the desalination plant, project engineer, Robert Moffat, said it produced around 40kl of water an hour.

Effluent water generated was stored in tanks while the brine waste product was discharged into the stormwater system and the sea, but that was done slowly, he said, to comply with limits set by the Coastal Water Discharge Permit (CWDP) set out by the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Eskom plans to have a permanent ground water desalination plant running at Koeberg around the first quarter of 2019.