South Africa: Cape Town Is Choosing Desalination Plants Over Creating Local Green Economy Jobs - Again

opinion

The City of Cape Town's announcement that it is considering investing in more small desalination plants, instead of investing in the Green Economy through local jobs, makes no financial or environmental sense. It also contradicts the advice of desalination experts at the World Bank. Clearing invasive alien vegetation to increase water security is cheaper, employs more people, saves our environment and can yield more water than desalination will produce.

The Western Cape's Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEADP) provided data proving that investing in the clearing of alien vegetation from critical catchments will yield water at a cost twelve times less than the cost of desalination plants. The increased water comes because alien trees suck up water in the soil and reduce groundwater levels, and so reduce the seepage and flows - especially during the dry season - to our dams. When the trees are removed, we get more water to the dams.

Over the past four years the Western Cape Province was in the midst of the worst drought on record. Information from DEADP shows R40-million was spent by the department on invasive clearing programmes. This is about 1% of its budget. More than six times this...

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