Cape Town’s water – what a mess.
It might have drizzled a little over the weekend, but digging ourselves out of this hole ain’t no quick fix. The oft-trotted out solution is a combination of harvesting those underground aquifers and desalinated sea water, except the latter might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Scientists from the University of the Western Cape reckon that desalinated sea water poses a probable health risk to Capetonians, with this below via Times LIVE:
The city’s three marine sewage outfalls, which send more than 36 million litres of effluent a day into the ocean, contain chemicals that mean “great caution is needed” in the desalination process, which is touted as the answer to Cape Town’s water crisis, the environmental scientists warn.
A team led by Professor Leslie Petrik, of the environmental and nano-science group at the University of the Western Cape, writes in the December edition of the SA Journal of Science: “It is probable that the water recovered from desalination may still be contaminated with traces of complex pollutants after the reverse osmosis [desalination] process. This probability represents a public health issue.”
Team member Lesley Green said: “None of us would like the results of our lab tests to be what they are in the context of this crisis.”
Not a good look – but it’s cool that we’re all swimming in it, right?
The City of Cape Town is singing a different tune, though, saying that it’s confident that the desalination plants in the Cape Town harbour, the V&A Waterfront, Strandfontein and Monwabisi will produce safe drinking water.
You guys remember THESE photos, right?
Here’s Xanthea Limberg, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for water and waste services:
“The water produced from desalination will be tested daily for conformance with the standard,” Limberg said.
“Complex chemical pollutants will not be present in sufficient quantities to place the public at more risk than they would be just living in an urban environment where these chemicals are freely used.”
That being said, Petrik and his team are sticking to their guns. He says that a recent CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) report commissioned by the city, which stated that “no immediate ecological disaster is imminent as a result of the effluent discharge”, still doesn’t prove its safety:
Petrik’s study, conducted with colleagues from the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, said city council tender documents for desalination plants “make the assumption that the tens of millions of litres a day of untreated effluent discharged into the ocean are dispersed out to sea and that in-take sea water to the desalination plants will contain only inorganic salts, and not organic chemical pollutants or microorganisms”…
Petrik’s team also analysed limpets, mussels, sea urchins, starfish, sea snails and seaweed for evidence of pollutants, and said they found high levels of chemical compounds that provided evidence of long-term exposure…
“[This] is a clear indication of faecal pollution of the shoreline, and that additional chemical substances are likely in the sea water.
“The full impact of chronic exposure to pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and cleaning products on the marine food chain and human health is not fully known, but their ubiquitous presence in trace levels in desalination intake water poses a potential risk to human health.”
No water, or water that scientists say is contaminated with ‘complex pollutants’, including shite?
Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Your daily reminder to let that yellow mellow, in case it slipped your mind.
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