Weighing options

John Simpson , Somerset West

Pat Reavell climbs on the desalination bandwagon. Blaming the DA for not having provided desalination plants in the Western Cape over the past 12 years is really unfair.

Pat claims to be an environmental activist and a fresh water ecologist.

Desalination plants are hugely expensive to build and very expensive to operate.

They also have a measurable and negative effect on the environment for two reasons.

Firstly, they use massive amounts of power to desalinate water, and secondly, they produce harmful waste that causes other problems.

They will also produce fresh water at 10 times the current cost of water.

So, who will have willingly paid for this over the past 12 years?

The largest desalination plant in South Africa was built by Mosgas in Mossel Bay, at great expense to the taxpayer.

As many will recall, they had a very severe and prolonged drought.

Mosgas built a plant and provided a portion of the water to the municipality.

Shortly before the plant was comissioned, the drought broke, and the unused plant was mothballed as the cost of desalination was prohibitive.

This plant has never produced fresh water that has been used.

It operates making a trickle of water to keep it operational.

I understand this trickle of fresh water is fed straight into the sea.

This represents hundreds of millions of rands of fruitless expenditure incurred by the bankrupt Petro SA, at taxpayers expense.

Imagine the outcry had this been built by the DA Western Cape Government?

The real solution is for all of us to get used to using a scarce and increasingly expensive resource more carefully.

Oh yes, perhaps it would be feasible for the Western Cape Government to buy this white elephant from Petro SA for R1, and re-erect it in Somerset West?

Now that would be interesting.