BETHANIE – Residents of Bethanie who for years have used salty water for household purposes will within the next ten months be able to savour the sweet taste of potable drinking water.
This dream will be realised after the official site handing over of the NamWater (Namibia Water Corporation) Bethanie pilot rural desalination plant to the contractor last week.
When delivering her welcoming remarks at this historical event, //Kharas regional governor, Aletha Frederick, said that she, in her former capacity as chairperson of the Bethanie Village Council, represented the office as part of the technical committee of the envisaged project.
She said that Namibia as a dry country is placed under serious pressure for water resources in terms of scarcity and quality of water supply. “In many parts of Namibia, the groundwater quality is affected by a high concentration of salts, such as fluoride and nitrates,” Frederick added.
When explaining the aims and objectives of the project she said that, inter alia, they were to acquire knowledge and skills to effectively and efficiently desalinate poor quality groundwater on a small scale by means of using reverse osmosis technology and hybrid renewable energy and, in addition, to improve the resilience of rural communities against climate change.
“This technology will positively impact the lives of vulnerable individuals and communities by supplying water that meets the standards of quality drinking water,” the regional political head emphasised.
She said that through this, awareness of climate change and its effects on water supply would be raised amongst the communities. She also said acquired knowledge and skills could be shared with stakeholders in the water supply sector and that this as a result would promote the mainstreaming of such small-scale desalination technology and systems in the country.
On the other hand, she urged NamWater management to take into consideration the current economic challenges when terminating water supply. She cited factors such as residents facing recurrent drought, labourers employed by commercial farmers being laid off, communal farmers losing livestock and employees in the tourism sector also being laid off due to Covid-19 as main reasons negatively affecting the sustainability of village councils’ revenue collection as residents are unable to pay for services delivered.
“Last but not least, allow me to extend our gratefulness to all the stakeholders who have contributed positively towards the realisation of this project,” concluded Frederick.
Abraham Nehemia, NamWater chief executive officer (CEO), also during the site handing over invited those present to come back after ten months to witness the inauguration of the completed project.
“The main objective of us gathering here today is therefore simply to witness the site handing over for a plant that will change the livelihood of the people of Bethanie in terms of access to potable water and enhanced economic progression,” he said.
He added that the pilot project, together with the completed one in Grunau, would inform the understanding of the cost of producing desalinated ground water as well as the reliability and viability of such plants. The CEO said the information would be vital for further replication to other areas and remote communities who are facing similar water quality challenges.
According to him the project will involve the construction of a brackish water reserve osmosis desalination plant powered by hybrid renewable energy (solar PV and wind). It will furthermore have a capacity to deliver 359.7m³ water per day with an 85% recovery rate.
The plant will in addition require approximately 453kWh energy per day in a peak water demand month. The total project cost will amount to N$36 million, funded by a grant from the Adaption Fund (UN).