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The Cape Town City Council is caught in a legal battle with Quality Filtration Systems (QFS) regarding the V&A Waterfront desalination plant.

QFS is accusing the City of failing to acknowledge or accept its legal responsibilities as the water services authorities and to comply with the relevant regulations.

QFS was commissioned to install the V&A Waterfront desalination plant as part of Day Zero emergency measures last year.

According to Green Building Africa, the City has always been aware of the poor state of the sea water and the extraordinary levels of contamination when it called for tenders in 2018.

After an eight-month dispute, QFS has uncovered what they believe to be the real reasons why the City of Cape Town is fighting the contractual settlement with QFS.

“Our tender to provide one of three desalination plants in Cape Town was submitted based on the water quality supplied by the City. However, on testing the water in early 2018, we highlighted the problems with raw feed water studies numerous times. Before the tender documents were issued, both the City management as well as the consulting engineer were also informed about the raw water contamination by UWC,” said Herman Smit, MD of QFS.

“As far as we are aware, neither the City or IX engineers, as the consulting engineers, did any water characterisation of the raw seawater, and denied there was anything wrong with the quality of the input water during the contract process, or once the desalination plant had been commissioned,” added Smit.

Cape Town’s water crisis

Smit continued: “As a local SME, who came forward during Day Zero to assist with the water crisis, we feel taken advantage of by the City who is using its financial and legal power to silence us to hide the gross mismanagement of the desalination projects.”

QFS will continue with the legal process and sue the City for the contractual amount as well as damages incurred during the 13 months of dispute.

“I believe that the City was aware of untreated sewage in the sea around Cape Town and are now avoiding responsibility and trying to lay the blame at QFS’s door,” he added.

Smit emphasised that had the City advised QFS of the poor state of the seawater and the extraordinary levels of contamination, of which the City was aware, the plant tendered would have been designed to deal with the quality of the inflow water and the company would not now be faced with this stand-off.

“We cannot understand the City’s position: not acknowledging the water quality and working with service providers to solve the problem; keeping their side of the contract agreement and paying QFS what is owed; being unwilling to come to the table to work out a solution; trying to avoid mediation to solve the stand-off; taking unreasonable measures to prevent the release of the mediation report; and claiming confidentiality when information is required,” Smit concluded.

Story source: Green Building Africa and edited by ESI Africa