HomeIndustry SectorsFinance and PolicyWebinar recording: A sceptic’s guide to municipalities and desalination

Webinar recording: A sceptic’s guide to municipalities and desalination

60 Minute Session

The National Sanitation and Water Masterplan for South Africa spell out different ways the country can reduce its water demand and ramp up its water supply while staying cognisant of climate impacts, between now and 2030.   

These include exploring groundwater options; using desalination to increase the water supply; encouraging industrial and domestic water re-use; and addressing non-revenue losses such as water leaks and inefficient billing structures. 

Much of the responsibility for turning the measures into action devolve to local authorities and municipalities. Case in point would be using desalination for large scale water procurement in coastal areas. 

How would this work though, when municipalities do not currently employ personnel skilled in running desalination projects? These developments also call for the type of long term debt financing which municipalities struggle with unless the National Treasury can step in with a sovereign guarantee. 

What does this mean for South African municipalities already battling to cope with service delivery expectations?  Here’s what speaker discussed: 

  • How does a municipality establish that desalination is the correct path for it to choose? And, where does the existing water authority fit into the decision making process? 
  • What are the risks involved in establishing a desalination plan and how do you derisk the exercise? 
  • What are the funding options for a municipality undertaking a path of desalination? What are the opportunities for the private sector to get involved and how do these tie into infrastructure planning up to 2030? 
  • How much desalination is planned for in the national water infrastructure plans up to 2030? 


  • Dawid Bosman, Senior Manager, Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority, South Africa 
  • Graham Metcalf, Geohydrologist, Umgeni Water, South Africa
  • Barry Martin, Senior Director: Water and Sanitation, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, South Africa

Moderator: Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl, Editor, ESI Africa 

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.