Icebergs Could Be the Solution to Cape Town’s Drought

May 1, 2018

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Ocean salvage experts have an unconventional solution to potentially help solve the water crisis brewing in Cape Town: icebergs.

The South African city is facing a record drought and water shortage, with “day zero,” the day when the city’s taps will run completely dry, looming in the distance. Local officials’ latest (vague) prediction is that Cape Town will run out of water sometime in 2019.

In order to help bolster the city’s water reserves, salvage master Nick Sloane is proposing to have the government chop up icebergs from Antartica, float them across the ocean to Africa and melt them down to be used as drinking water. The result could mean millions of gallons of water for Cape Town residents.

“We want to show that if there is no other source to solve the water crisis, we have another idea no one else has thought of yet,” Sloane told Reuters. According to Sloane, one iceberg could produce up to 40 million gallons per day for about a year. That would meet about 30% of Cape Town’s water needs.

Sloane, who is based in Cape Town and is best known for leading the re-floating of the capsized Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia in 2014, says his team could wrap floating icebergs in special fabric to protect them and help stop the melting process. Then, a fleet of tanker ships could guide them to the Benguela Current that runs to southern Africa. A milling machine would then chop up the ice and speed along the melting process.

The drought in Cape Town started two years ago, and the lack of rain has since escalated to South Africa declaring a national disaster. Water conservation efforts by citizens have been somewhat successful. The “day zero” calculation has been pushed back from June 2018 to sometime in 2019 due to successful water management.

The current water restriction for Cape Town residents is 13 gallons per person per day.

Sloane is currently looking for investors into the project, which he estimates will run a tab of about $130 million. He plans to hold a press conference sometime in May to present the idea to the city.

Featured image by EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP/Getty Images.

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