Desal To The Rescue; Or Not; Profiteering Flourishes; Wine Industry Hit

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town will have its first desalination plants working just weeks before the city's dams are expected to dry up. That’s according to City of Cape Town Informal Settlements‚ Water and Waste Services and Energy mayoral committee member‚ Xanthea Limberg (Cape Business News).

But a Cape-based water desalination company, which is completing plants in India and Saudi Arabia that will deliver 800 million liters of potable water a day, has lambasted the City of Cape Town for failing to act more quickly in boosting the region’s water supply. The company, GrahamTek, submitted a proposal in May to provide the region with 450 million liters a day within 18 months at “affordable” prices. It has accused the city of failing to appreciate the scale of the water crisis and the urgency of finding solutions (IOL News).

Meantime, with water rationing underway, and dire warnings of “day zero” when supply will run completely dry, enterprising profiteers are taking advantage of the shortage. Water restrictions, threats of prosecution and a sense of panic have some residents willing to pay for alternative water supplies for gardening, swimming pools and flushing toilets.

Water and Sanitation Department spokesman Sputnik Ratau said the government was the custodian or trustee of water resources, including dams, rivers, lakes, pans, wetlands and groundwater. "It is illegal to sell water. The only case in which water is sold legally is as bottled water," he said. "Use of water without an authorization is a serious offence, which carries a minimum sentence of five years' imprisonment or a fine." (Times Live)

Yields in the region’s wine beverage market will be down as much as 25% to 50% next year according to two major industry players last week. A significant drop in yield on “an already unprofitable model”, means the industry will take a serious hit in 2018. The lack of rain during winter has left vines across the Cape without the required water reserves through summer (MoneyWeb).