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Towed iceberg could solve Cape Town drought


Posted on Wednesday, 4 July, 2018 | Comment icon 14 comments

Could an iceberg solve South Africa's water shortage ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Liam Quinn
A marine salvage expert has suggested towing an iceberg 1,200 miles to act as a source of fresh water.
Water shortages are becoming an increasingly serious problem in South Africa. Earlier this year, things got so bad that Cape Town came very close to forcing residents to queue for water rations.

Only a concerted effort to conserve water, coupled with timely rain showers, prevented catastrophe.

Now in an effort to provide a more concrete solution to the problem, marine salvage expert Nick Sloane has proposed a radical plan to tow an iceberg from Antarctica using an underwater net.

To keep the 500-meter-wide iceberg from melting during its 3-month 1,200-mile trip across the sea, Sloane has suggested wrapping it inside a textile insulation 'skirt'.

If the plan works, a single iceberg could supply Cape Town with 150 million liters of usable water every day for a year - that's equivalent to about one third of its annual water needs.

While the idea certainly has merit, Cape Town's deputy mayor Ian Neilson is not convinced.

"At this stage it appears to us that in fact the groundwater or desalination options are cheaper or at least equal cost price," he said.

Source: Japan Times | Comments (14)

Tags: Iceberg

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Seti42 on 5 July, 2018, 2:43
Do it. And make DeBeers pay for it. They have the money, and 'earned' (read: stolen it from) it off of South Africa and the world for over a century.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw on 5 July, 2018, 7:01
Every decade or so, this idea is reprieved from Scientific Purgatory, dusted off, a new coat of paint slapped on and presented to the wide-eyed media who eagerly foist it upon a gullible public. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/08/the-many-failures-and-few-successes-of-zany-iceberg-towing-schemes/243364/
Comment icon #7 Posted by Peter Cox on 5 July, 2018, 8:55
Do elaborate on "stole it"?
Comment icon #8 Posted by freetoroam on 5 July, 2018, 9:08
How about humans slow down on their breeding and stop being so wasteful.today. The way we are going we are all going to be struggling getting fresh water They can not be moving icebergs in the future to save our planet, even they are melting. So best concentrate on what we can do to help our planet and the human race = stopincreasing the demands because we think we can have as many kids as we want and stop wasting theprecious resources we currently have available.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Elarwen on 5 July, 2018, 9:51
There's no unexplained mystery about it. We're in the middle of a drought, made worse by the fact that the dams were built to supply a smaller city and Cape Town's population has been growing rapidly. To make it worse, the drought and lack of water was poorly handled by provincial government and national government (who took 2 years to realize there was a problem). We are doing better now, thanks to above average rainfall this winter so far (our dams are at the level they were in 2015 at the start of the drought) and stringent water saving and restrictions. Using 50l per person per day can be ... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by John Allanson on 5 July, 2018, 13:04
Cape town hot, Iceberg cold, sea warmer the nearer the equator you get. 1200 miles getting smaller and smaller. What guarantee that it will get there at all is there?. It may be better in the end to just build a desalination plant.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Elarwen on 5 July, 2018, 14:57
Actually, it could work because the sea off the west coast of South Africa (where Cape Town is) is made cold by the Benguela current which comes up from Antarctica
Comment icon #12 Posted by paperdyer on 5 July, 2018, 16:29
Desalinization of salt water is fine as long as the melting icebergs replenish what we take out and we have a use for all of the salt. The salt goes into the permeate stream of water at a higher concentration that what was in there to begin with. This needs to be dealt with. The desalted water then has to be treated to make it potable. The RO units also are known for growing bacteria which has to be dealt with heat or additional chlorination.The membranes aren't cheap and neither are the units. The salt water would need to be filtered prior to the units to take out any particles. There are a... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by kapow53 on 5 July, 2018, 23:31
You gotta be kidding
Comment icon #14 Posted by Jon the frog on 9 July, 2018, 17:48
Solar powered desalinization plant would be far more interesting.


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