Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 Feb 2011

TECHNOLOGY: Desalination Plant For Plettenberg


Recent Western Cape Business News

FOLLOWING the worst drought in 138 years in the Southern Cape, Plettenberg Bay has awarded Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, VWS Envig a turnkey contract to the value of R32m to design, build and maintain a desalination plant able to deliver two million litres of potable water per day.

Sea water will be abstracted from seven boreholes at a depth of 12m each, sunk close to the landmark Beacon Isle Hotel. The beach sand will act as a filter, followed by other pre-treatment phases, upon which the water will be treated by sea water reverse osmosis membranes.

After considering various options and taking into account factors such as the eco-sensitive zones on the pristine coastline, cost, land availability and infrastructure, it was decided to build the plant on a tennis court belonging to the municipality at the hotel, where much of the pipe work and electricity supply is available.

“Originally water was to be extracted from Robberg beach, but due to shallow rock barriers, the holes did not produce enough water. Test results have indicated that the salinity of the water from the current abstraction point will be in line with the expected and falls within the scope of what the plant can treat,” explains Pierre Fourie, Project Manager, VWS Envig Paarl office.

Abstracting out of the estuary and discharging into the sea were two major environmental concerns that VWS Envig were faced with. “We have opted to discharge the brine into the sea at the Blinders, where the tides and wave action over the rocks will ensure a good mix and no significant adverse effect on the environment. Over the next year, we will be drawing regular water samples to monitor the situation and to ensure that we minimise the negative impact on the estuary.”

“This will enable us to act proactively,” says Fourie.

To further minimise the environmental impact, the building that will house the plant features a flat concrete roof that will be planted with indigenous succulents to reduce noise.

“We have paid particular attention to ensure that the building is aesthetically pleasing and as green as possible,” says Fourie. Mechanical energy recuperation units are used to further make the plant more energy efficient.

VWS Envig manages the project and is responsible for process design as well as the civil, mechanical and electrical work on the plant.

“Timelines were tight; the plant was due for commissioning at the beginning of December last year to cope with the expected influx of holiday makers over peak season in December,” says Fourie.

As part of the 3-year operational and maintenance contract, VWS Envig will be providing training to all operators.

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