WESTERN Cape premier Helen Zille has lauded the design and management of Bitou’s desalination plant. She was in the area last Thursday to speak at the S-Cape Landowner’s Initiative’s Environmental Seminar 2017, and to inspect projects related to the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative. Talking about drought mitigation measures in Bitou, she said: “Roodefontein Dam is currently 72% full, and augmentation schemes in this municipality include equipping two new boreholes in Kurland, four in KwaNokuthula, and four in Uplands. “Drilling for these boreholes has already commenced, and we’re also planning two additional boreholes in Harkerville. After inspecting Plett’s desalination plant, Zille met with the town’s political and administrative leadership in the council chambers. “It was amazing to see a desalination plant in that beautiful location right next to the lagoon, and to see the technology at work,” she said. “Even more amazing for me was to see how you have resolved major technological problems that have been worrying – for example the way you handle the brine that can be toxic if it’s dumped near the coastline.” Bitou’s plant sends the brine out in plumes so that the wind blows it around, and wave action then churns so that absorption has no impact on the ocean. “This is exciting because it may be a technique we can use elsewhere in the province, rather than spending millions on pumping the brine far out to sea,” said Zille. “I was also fascinated to hear that you’re extracting water from a well point in the lagoon, because everything I’ve heard and read about desalination says that you have to extract the water from a clear open ocean space. “But here you’re allowing the sand to do half of the work by filtering it first, which also saves lots of money – as does your use of a turbine that saves 40% on your electricity bill. I’ve been very impressed, and I’ve learned a lot technically,” she said.