desalination plant 1

A new potable seawater purification plant has begun processing hundreds of kilolitres of salt water to ease the shortage of drinkable water caused by the current drought in South Africa.


The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) recently launched the critical Richards Bay Desalination Plant* in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The launch of the plant is meant to assist in enhancing security of supply within the King Cetshwayo District Municipality.

Minister Mokonyane explained in a statement: “We are delighted to announce that the desalination plant is now 100% complete and functional. In fact, the plant started to produce water on the 14 November 2016 and a total of 10ML/day production was commissioned by 25 January 2017”.

The plant was launched in recognition of the centrality of water in all socio-economic development, appreciating that the water sector is critical for government’s transformation and development objectives, while the provision of safe and accessible water supply and sanitation services profoundly affects poor people’s daily lives.

In recognition of the sustained drought conditions experienced in the province, the KZN Provincial Cabinet issued a drought disaster declaration in December 2014.

As a result of the drought, all the natural sources levels ran low and thus not suitable for use, with even the Goedertrouw Dam, the main supply to Richards Day, dropping to a dangerously low level of 16% as at August 2016.

To mitigate against this misfortune, the Emergency Water Transfer Scheme was activated in July 2014 where water was then pumped from the Thukela River into the Goedertrouw Dam to ensure the dam does not fail.

All of this was while the DWS together with the affected municipality focused on changing the water mix with greater emphasis on water harvesting, re-use of return flows, and utilising ground water by drilling of boreholes.

The aforementioned challenges drove the department to seek and provide a short term intervention.

This was done by the introduction of the 10 Megalitre/day desalination plant in order to augment the domestic water supply and avoid further hardship for the communities in and around Richards Bay.

The desalination plant will benefit the whole town of Richards Bay and surrounding communities from the sea water treated. It will directly benefit the communities of Mandlazini, Nseleni, Khoza, Mzingazi and the Mbonambi Rural Water Supply Scheme.

The water reservoirs in the region have greatly improved since the operation of the desalination plant adding water security and reliability. The reservoirs in this respect include Mapolwane, Khoza, Nseleni, Mandlazini, Meerensee and Brackenham. These reservoirs have moved from an average of 55% to 90%.

“Most importantly, there is dire need for coordination of infrastructure investments in targeted spaces across spheres, sectors and with stakeholders; and government across the various spheres should strive to overcome persistent backlogs and inequities in service delivery through improved intergovernmental planning and budgeting processes.”

* The KZN potable sea water purification plant is not the first one in South Africa, after doing some more research we have found there are purification plants in Mossel Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Lamberts Bay, Knysna and the Cannon Rocks & Boknes Communities in Eastern Cape.

Sources: South African Government
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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.


  1. No education and investment on saving residential rooftop rain water, using composting toilets, reusing treated sewerage water, sustainable use of our underground water but an expensive desal plant is heralded as so called development. Any thought on the increased salt levels in the sea? Looks like business as usual.

  2. What’s with all the picky and negative comments, lets just celebrate that another desalination plant is up and running. Congrats to all the people concerned with more progress in our South Africa.

    1. Cape Town needs one or more immediately. Hopefully politics doesn’t play any part of this crucial requirement

  3. I fully agree with Potable Sea Water Desalination Plants, we need a whole lot more going forward in years to come. I would be most unhappy to hear of them sourcing potable water from Table Mountain Aquafa which means that only a limited amount will become available while simultaneously messing up the ecological balance which nature intended. If it means obtaining available potable water from lower estuaries in Cape Town surrounds, that would make more sense in that potable water can be lying fallow just below the earths surface withing easy natural reach and without effecting our environment so drastically!!! Afterall, we have to look after our planet for it to look after us!!!

  4. A group of engineers including myself tried to get Cape Town to invest in a de-salination plant driven by solar PV. The site was identified and the payback was 5 years. Unfortunately there was no political will at that time (8 years ago). What a pity, it would have paid dividends now.

  5. Barry that would have been a very good plan Also many years ago Cape Uni did a study that if all homes had a rain water tank or two tanks if they had a large garden or/and swimming pool one tank for the toilets and washing machine That could be topped up from the main water if it ran dry but the saving of water from the main supply was very significant The other suggestion was to have water supply tap in the poor area to work on a hand pump system so if the tap was stolen the water would not pour out and go to waste

  6. Good day Ladies and Gentlemen My Company is holding a water desalination symposium in Cape town from 29th-31st August 2017 will be discusing how to solve Africa’s water crisis. To immediately book your seat at this Symposium, contact me as soon as possible on tel: +27 (0) 11 341 1000 or O83 353 4193 my email address is

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