Desalination plant for Waterfront

Founder of Kusini Water system, Murendeni Mafumo

The V&A Waterfront is set to become home to a new solar-powered desalination plant, which will be the first of its kind in Cape Town.

The brains behind the project is Murendeni Mafumo who was one of 16 social entrepreneurs who took part in the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy last year.

Mr Mafumo founded Kusini Water, a locally-designed solar-
powered water purification system that uses an activated carbon filter made from locally-sourced macadamia nut shells.

He has launched several Kusini Water purification plants across South Africa to help deliver clean water to rural communities and to reduce reliance on municipal water.

Born and bred in Venda, Limpopo, it was in high school that Mr Mafumo realised his passion for science. After matric, he decided to pursue his career in science and studied chemistry at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He worked for the City’s Water and Sanitation department for 10 years where he was responsible for, among other things, water treatment.

“The aim of Kusini Water is to bring about a systemic change in communities currently under-served when it comes to water and sanitation,” he said.

However, the Cape Town desalination plant will be the first on this large scale. The desalination plant will obtain seawater from offshore marine waters and discharge concentrated brine effluent through pipeline infrastructure.

The plant will be built on the Granger Bay side of the V&A Waterfront and will be capable of producing 4 000 litres of fresh water an hour, or enough water for more than 4 800 households a day.

Kusini Water will be sold in bottles to households in affluent areas and for every litre bought, 20 litres will be given to communities on the Cape Flats.

Profits from this plant will also go towards the construction and operation of a future plant planned for the Cape Flats that will provide advanced Kusini Water treatment systems and water recovery for gardening and common latrine flushing.

Mr Mafumo said they planned to sanitise their bottles and supply water to restaurants and they would be collaborating with companies to collect any other used plastics and use them to build reservoirs.

Mr Mafumo said they were sharing notes with the City through the operators of the system. “We’ve met with the City and are now in the process of finalising the relationship because the City would need to generate revenue from the system,” he said.

When the sun is not shining, Mr Mafumo said they would be integrating a battery power system.

The project will kick off in September and the plant is expected to be fully functional at the end of October. “We are focusing on the future of the continent and Cape Town because the drought will come back,” said Mr Mafumo.

The system can treat water from any source, removing more than 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses and could produce 40 times more water than reverse osmosis, the current best practice, and uses about half the energy.