Salvage master, Captain Nicholas Sloane of Sloane Marine Limited, best known for his salvage operation of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship off the Italian coast in 2013 talks to CapeTalk's John Matham about realistic options of bringing water to the Western Cape.
Sloane believes bringing icebergs to Cape Town is a viable plan. (Listen at 5-minute tab into the interview)
He says the location of the Cape in relation to Antartica, is almost 3000 nautical miles away, but loose floating icebergs are only about 1000 nautical miles away from the Cape.
Antartica is the largest source of fresh water in the world, over 50% of fresh water in the world is contained in the ice shelf - and there are thousands and thousands of icebergs broken off and drifting around in Antartica.— Captain Nicholas Sloane, Sloane Marine Limited
He believes 3.5% of these would be perfect to be towed to the Cape. He acknowledges it would be a slow process with the towing vessel not doing more than 1 knot.
While it is too late for this year, it would be viable for next year, he says.
I think to tow the iceberg here would be half the cost of desalination....ice is pure water and therefore potable.— Captain Nicholas Sloane, Sloane Marine Limited
He says the ideal iceberg would be around 100 million tons, about a kilometre in length, and half a kilometre in width. Around 80 000 cubic metres of water would melt per day on the surface alone.
He says the target would be to deliver 200 000 cubic metres of water a day to the city - 200 million litres a day - and tone iceberg would last a year.
Listen to the detailed explanation at 5-minute tab to the iceberg option. Sloane also fist explains why transporting water from the Congo River is less economically viable and the water would not be potable.
He weighs in on another suggestion as well...
One suggestion has been 100 million litre supertankers to bring water from the Congo River. The first 10km of the river is fresh, because of the particular hydrology in the areas.
Are they technically and economically feasible? And can it be done in time?
We are running out of time so you would need five or six supertankers. And it is a 12-14 day rotation....but the real challenge comes with the quality of the water.— Captain Nicholas Sloane, Sloane Marine Limited
Sloane says the Congo water may be fresh, but it is not potable and would have to be treated, and may only be good for greywater use even after treatment.
So then the cost does not warrant that kind of action.— Captain Nicholas Sloane, Sloane Marine Limited
He estimates the cost at $350 000 per tanker load of about 200 000 cubic metres of water.
Then there needs to be a plan to incorporate the water into the city's infrastructure, he adds.