The DA’s wasted desalination plant

Sedgefield Desalination plant wasted by Democratic Alliance

The Sedgefield desalination plant next to Myoli Beach was built for R16-million in December 2009. Although it was a response to a drought, and that the population has doubled since then, it has never supplied water to the Public. The stated reason for this is that the price of its water will be too high. However, to keep it running and undertake repairs finds the Knysna Municipality spending millions of rands annually. One must ask who is scoring?

The single-pass, reverse osmosis plant was commissioned under the ANC government but the DA has been in charge since 2011. That 7 years makes it the DA’s desalination plant.

Early 2017, I had an email conversation with Tom Callaghan, Head of Group Business Development and the Divisional Director of GTEK (Pty) Ltd Water, the company that had installed the plant.

He said, “The Department of Water & Sanitation and the Water Research Commission [wanted] to upgrade the plant with new technology and service and maintain it properly. The upgrade would be at NO cost to them, and price of water would be within current municipal rates. We never heard back from the municipality. Very frustrating for us”.

One month before the Great Knysna Fire in 2017, James-Brent Styan‚ spokesperson for DA Local Government MEC Anton Bredell contradictory said that the Sedgefield desalination plant was operating at full capacity to alleviate the situation in the region “but is unable to provide water directly to Knysna”.

How much has been spent in total and why wasn’t it put towards a dam or water saving technology instead?

Why would Knysna Municipality choose to waste millions on operating a desalination water plant that it isn’t using when it could switch providers and put it to use in a water scarce area?

Acting Municipal Manager Johnny Douglas, as per usual, failed to answer my emailed query.

PS: For those technically minded, read ‘An analysis of the impacts of Sedgefield’s 2009/2010 drought response on
water security.’