Tue. Dec 10th, 2019

Revealed: The alarming costs behind Cape Town’s desalination debacle

Cape Town desalinationA multi-million rand lawsuit is set to take the City of Cape Town by storm, after a company asked to build a desalination plant accused officials of lying.

revealed the alarming costs behind cape towns desalination debacle 1024x853 - Revealed: The alarming costs behind Cape Town’s desalination debacle

ED 0127588 1200x1000 - Revealed: The alarming costs behind Cape Town’s desalination debacle

The City of Cape Town (COCT) is facing a multi-million rand lawsuit, after a company that was awarded a contract to build a desalination plant in March 2018 called out the department for foul play.

The Cape Town desalination plant fiasco explained

Quality Filtration Systems were awarded a tender to install the facility at the V&A Waterfront, during the height of the “day zero” crisis. Cape Town was hurtling towards a scenario where the taps would have to be manually turned off by the city, before the arrival of winter rains helped alleviate the drought fears.

However, then-Mayor Patricia de Lille was desperate to show that her office was doing something about the impending threat. As well as implementing strict water restrictions, the desalination plants were commissioned for action. Yet it’s this one – right in the heart of the city – that encountered the most difficulties.

According to QFS, they were misled about the quality of water they’d have to treat. They estimated that the “feedwater” was about 400% more polluted than original figures suggested. This created a logistical nightmare for the company, who had to change their filters “three times a day” instead of doing it just once a month as planned.

How much will the city be sued for?

On top of that, extra filters needed to be purchased and the company were put in the awkward position of having to divert more funds to sewage treatment. The bills piled up, leaving QFS with no choice but to sue for the full amount of money owed to them:

  • They were initially promised R53 million to complete the work – that’s the full value they are suing COCT for.
  • QFS claim they’ve only received R1.7 million of that money so far.
  • Funding the additional filters and subsequent replacements came to R7 million.
  • Expected to put two million litres of clean drinking water per day back into the reticulation system, these challenges ended up limiting production to just 500 000l/pd.

The city have officially accepted the legal challenge, but would not be drawn for a reaction when prompted. We were told this is a matter for the courts, but an official statement on the matter will soon be made public. Quality Filtration Systems have officially terminated their contract with COCT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *