South Africa is classed as the 30th driest country in the world. As a semiarid country, it has a high within-season variability of rainfall and uneven distribution of rainfall (43% of the rain falls on 13% of the land). This means that even during a good year of average rainfall the country’s water resources are already stretched in some regions.
The direness of the arid situation has certainly been exacerbated by the drought and extreme weather conditions in recent years. However, consideration must also be given to the adequacy of water supply infrastructure and management, and wasteful water usage.
Although not limited to, the impact of changes in weather patterns have certainly been harshly felt across the Cape-regions of South Africa. And, while the Western Cape has managed to fend of the threat of Day Zero indefinitely, this would not have been possible without serious interventions that were initiated by the City of Cape Town Municipality. Some interventions were aimed at addressing wasteful water usage and instilling a culture change towards using water much more sparingly and responsibly. Others focused on implementing a series of emergency water supply projects to supplement critically low water resource levels in the district.
One such project is the City’s desalination plant at the V&A Waterfront.
Quality Filtration Systems (QFS), along with Osmoflo, were awarded the work as the main contractor – to build, own and operate the plant, as well as to decommission the plant at the end of the contract term. WSP tendered as sub-consultants to QFS.
Given the state of emergency of the water crisis in the region, this was a rapid execution, top priority project for all parties involved. To put this into context; the project was awarded to QFS and Osmoflo in January 2018, where WSP, as sub-consultants, immediately started working on the designs, drawings and specifications for the plant’s ancillary components. Practical completion of these components was reached within two months and within a total of three-months from the work being awarded the plant began overall commissioning.
For this project, WSP provided a number of key services, including:
- Concept to detailed designs,
- Construction drawings and specifications for the desalination plant’s ancillary works
- Project management services
- Site supervision for improved collaboration, quality assurance and quick decision-making on site during rapid delivery on the construction of the plant
“The three main components that make up the ancillary works include the marine intake pipeline and seawater pumping system, the brine discharge system and the injection system to convey the fresh water to the localised water infrastructure network. WSP provided the marine, civil and mechanical design of these components – where these components were also designed in such a way that the entire system can be upgraded for up to 50% more production, if required in future,” says Marthinus Retief, Principal Associate: Coastal, at WSP Maritime Africa.
The desalination process itself is owned and operated by QFS, along with Osmoflo.