Desal Data Weekly - May 26th, 2017

Posted 26 May, 2017 by Mandy

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CAPE TOWN – In the midst of South Africa’s years-long drought, the Richard’s Bay desalination wastewater plant opened last week.[1]  The $23.19 million-dollar hybrid facility (R300 million) significantly reduces water costs, by producing 50 percent of its water from the ocean, and the other 50 percent from waste water.[2]  The facility will help 150,000 households in the area and improve water security within the King Cetshwayo District Municipality.  The plant’s initial operations have already improved water levels in the region’s reservoirs, including Mapolwane, Khoza, Nseleni, Mandlazini, Meerensee, and Brackenham.[3] 


VICTORIA – Australia’s Labour government has reported that the 50 million cubic metre water order for 2016-2017 from its desalination facility has increased water storage levels by 1.2 percent.[4]  Nevertheless, the stress of water scarcity is still apparent. Stored water levels in Melbourne, for instance, are 105 million cubic metres lower at this time two years ago. The government has placed an additional order of 15 million cubic metres for 2017-2018.


RIYADH – The Riyadh-based company ACWA Power is reportedly interested in purchasing parts of Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation in 2018, when the company privatizes.[5]  ACWA—which has a portfolio of power and water assets that is worth roughly $35 billion—aims to double its size within three years.


LOS ANGELES – Poseidon’s appointment of former Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer as a company representative may be indicative of some political pressure against the company’s Huntington Beach facility.[6] As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Poseidon may be “lining up political firepower” in the face of rising “scepticism” about the project.  The Orange County Water District has postponed an environmental impact analysis for the facility until Poseidon secures permits from the regional Water Quality Control Board and the Coastal Commission. The company will not secure these approvals before early 2018.  It also remains to be seen whether the Coastal Commission will require Poseidon to build the facility with subsurface seawater intakes.


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Credit: David Butow/ Los Angeles Times


Some of the pressure facing Poseidon may have to do with water supply and availability in Orange County.[7] The central and northern regions of the county rely on a large underground aquifer as well as water supplies from the Colorado River and California’s State Water Project. By comparison, San Diego, which relies on the Carlsbad facility, has no groundwater basin and sits at “the end of the line” of traditional water deliveries.[8]  These factors render the San Diego region more vulnerable to cutbacks during droughts and other mitigating circumstances.


[1] Riante Naidoo, “Desalination Plant to Enhance Water Security in Richards Bay,”, May 22, 2017, <> accessed May 24, 2017.

[2] Jason Mast, “Desalinatin-wastewater plant is African first,”, May 21, 2017, <> accessed May 26, 2017.

[3] Riante Naidoo, “Desalination Plant to Enhance Water Security in Richards Bay.”

[4] Tom Freyberg, “Victoria’s Desalination Plant Slowly Crawls Back Credibility,” Water World, May 25, 2017, <> accessed May 25, 2017.

[5] “ACWA Power’s Padmanathan Outlines Acquisition Plans,”, May 23, 2017, <> accessed May 24, 2017.

[6] Michael Kiltzik, “As Political Pressure for Approval Intensifies, the case for a big desalination plant remains cloudy,” Los Angeles Times, May 19, 2017, <> accessed May 24, 2017.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

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