THE Erongo Desalination Plant (EDP) has just achieved a total fifty million cubic metres of potable water produced since it started operating in 2010.
Originally built by Orano (then AREVA Resources Namibia) to supply water to its Trekkopje Mine near Arandis, the EDP is now an important contributor to the overall supply of potable water delivery system managed by Namwater Corporation, providing approximately 75% of the overall drinking water for the town of Swakopmund, as well as the nearby uranium mines and other industries.
Located 35 kilometres north of Swakopmund, near the settlement of Wlotzkasbaken in the Namib Desert, it is the largest reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant in southern Africa.
Namibia needs at least three solar powered desalination plants to provide water to the entire country and it could also supply water to other arid Southern African countries facing the same predicament in terms of concurrent droughts. The estimated cost of a desalination plant that was built from scratch at the coast a few years ago is at N$3 billion. This is according to Frank Kavishe, a mechanical and industrial engineering professor at the University of Namibia (Unam).
Commenting on Orano’s pioneering work in the water desalination work in the country, Christine de Klerk, Orano spokesperson, stated that this achievement is remarkable, considering that not a single lost time injury (LTI) was experienced during that entire period.
Developed and owned by Orano Mining Namibia, the plant is operated by Nafasi Water (formerly Aveng Water).
De Klerk stated that ongoing production of potable water is determined by demand, but the current capacity of the plant is 20 million cubic meters per annum and can be upgraded to supply 26 million cubic meters per annum within the existing buildings.
She added that there is also the possibility of further extension to supply 45 million cubic meters of water should future demand require it.
Touching on the safety of operations at the plant, De Klerk stated that the EDP has an impressive safety record, with nine years of continuous operation without a single Loss Time Injury (LTI).
She added that the plants environmental management system adheres to the highest standards, as confirmed by ongoing impact testing around the operating site by independent third parties.
The seawater desalination process consists of screen filtration, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, limestone contact and chorination and finally the clean water is supplied to Namwater through a pipeline from the plant to add to their supply for the region.
“The Erongo Desalination Plant is already fulfilling a critical role in water provision for the Erongo Region, and with the uranium industry showing signs of eventual recovery, the industry needs a sustainable and reliable water resource. The availability of water, through a desalination plant or plants, has the ability to unlock enormous potential from industry to agriculture,” De Klerk concluded.