Desalination poses poison risks

Byron Herbert, Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association

The real risk of Mouille Point desalination is poisoning our existing “tap water” supply.

While desalination is considered as a solution to our taps running dry, we also need to be realistic as to how safe the desalinated “fresh water” will be. What we have discovered through extensive scientific research is that the Marine Outfall Points (MOP), while pumping macerated sewage into the sea, are in fact relying solely on the sun to kill the multitude of bacteria and poisons that are flushed down the sewerage system on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, the reality is that even if the ecoli and enterococcus levels end up being low on the surface of the water, the sun can only penetrate to less than a meter and the water will certainly be drawn from well below the surface off the Granger Bay Harbour.

In addition, the UV doesn’t neutralise the multitude of chemicals and medication that gets flushed into the sea daily, to which end the City have their own test results in black mussels indicating an excessive level of hypertension medication in the mussels’ tissue in the waters around the Mouille Point MOP.

So looking towards desalination, there is a major concern that the downstream effect of the wave and water currents wrapping the coastline, all the way down to Oceana Power Boat Club, creates a vastly increased concentration level of chemical and medical load (40 million litres of untreated sewage pumped off Mouille Point daily equals 16 Olympic size swimming pools).

Therefore, as the catchment area is from Bantry Bay to Woodstock, from homes to industry to hospitals, everything that is flushed down the toilet or washed into the sewerage system eventually is mixed up and pumped into the bay.

We have been told that bulk desalination is designed for “clean sea water”, and that if desalinating in huge volumes, as is required here, it is possible to remove most of the micro biological organisms, but impossible to remove the chemical and medical load, especially as this is changing every minute.

The scariest of the problems we are currently facing is that under the disaster management plan, virtually all the checks and balances that would be followed in other western cities, are being bypassed by the City, to ensure that they have water to be pumped directly into the existing drinking water supply, even though the scientists are all warning of the potential and probability that in so doing from this location, will result in poisoning the existing water supply.

Therefore, should this go ahead, there is a strong likelihood that drinking from the tap, or even showering will be exposing onself to varying medications and chemicals.

What is puzzling is why the need to draw water and desalinate from the already highly polluted waters around Mouille Point and Granger Bay, and pumping the newly desalinated yet potentially toxic supply directly into the city’s water supply system.

Surely it would make much more sense to desalinate from a much less polluted marine area and pipe straight into the same city water supply, for example using the sea water from the uninhabited area between Blouberg and Melkbos where the water pipeline runs relatively close to the coastline and power is readily available.

After all we are told this is only a temporary plant, with presumably a permanent one to be built close to Koeberg.

This letter was sent to the City for a response.

They have indicated that they will have a response ready in time for publication in next week’s paper.