In Brief

Can icebergs solve Cape Town’s water crisis?

Marine salvage expert says plan to ‘capture’ Antarctic ice floe for meltwater is ‘doable’

A leading marine salvage expert is hoping to solve Cape Town’s ongoing water crisis by towing an iceberg from the Antarctic to provide water for the drought-stricken city.

South Africa has faced severe droughts every year since 2015 and has declared a national disaster in its southern and western regions. Cape Town’s four million residents have been warned that most of the city’s taps may run dry at some point next year if the crisis is not resolved.

But Zambia-born salvage expert Nick Sloane - who won international acclaim for refloating the Costa Concordia after the 114,500-ton cruise liner sank off the coast of Italy - has suggested that “capturing” just one of the many massive icebergs that drift close to South Africa each year could potentially provide about 150 million litres of water a day for a year.

This is “considerably more than existing emergency plans, including desalination, that are being considered by the city’s authorities”, reports The Times. Sloane already has 80% of the $130m [£100m] seed capital he needs to begin a pilot project this year, the newspaper adds.

According to Sky News, Slaone plans to use a number of large tankers to guide the icebergs into the Benguela Current that flows along the west coast of southern Africa, “before a milling machine would cut into the ice”.

The salvage master told Reuters: “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.”

He added: “Desalination plants require enormous funding before even a drop of water is produced, but the beauty of this model is that Antarctic water is pure, needs no treatment, costs nothing to acquire and the only cost is in delivering it. The engineers and scientists are all saying it sounds mad, but it’s doable.”

Sloane is planning to hold a conference later this month in a bid to sell the project to investors and Cape Town officials, who were not available for comment.

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