A five-star hotel on Cape Town’s foreshore has built and implemented its own desalination plant, which uses seawater and will supply two other nearby hotels with desalinated water.

Located in the Cape Town International Convention Centre Precinct, The Westin Cape Town hotel is currently in its final stages of testing the newly-implemented desalination plant on the site.

The innovative initiative will help to save water and reduce the hotels’ dependency on municipal water. As the Westin is situated on ‘reclaimed land’ and is one of the only buildings in the foreshore to be so far below sea level, the hotel has utilised pumps to source water from the ocean.

An estimated 1.2-million litres of seawater are located in the basement levels and this water is then rerouted to the reverse osmosis plant.

The plant is set up in the basement level of the hotel and the seawater goes through the rigorous process of reserve osmosis using state-of-the-art machines, which ensures the water is safe to drink.

One of the mechanisms used in the desalination plant.

Managed by several machines, the water goes through at least five mechanisms before it is sent off into the hotel’s system. The water is given a crystal clear clarity and looks just like ‘normal’, or municipal, water.

Desalination plant walk-about, the clarity of the water after the first step can be seen in the glass. The water may still have a salty taste and must still go through several other processes before being drinkable.

The Westin’s General Manager, Leon Meyer, says the plant will aid in more sustainable hotel practices.

“Due to the excess supply of water this reverse osmosis plant will produce, we are in a unique position to provide two other large hotels with an equal supply of water, consequently and more importantly decreasing their dependency on the municipal water grid,” he says.

Supplying the Westin hotel, the Tsogo Sun Waterfront and the Tsogo Sun Cullinan, the mechanism will produce over 400 000 liters when running at optimum production.

The pipes which will supply the three hotels with water.

Construction on the plant is complete but it is currently in its testing phase. The project has been funded by The Hospitality Property Fund, a subsidiary of Tsogo Sun and owner of the Westin Cape Town.

The Westin has released a statement ensuring the public that the plant was approved before being built.

“The impact of the desalination plant has been carefully studies by independent research and approved by authorities before the decision was made for its installation.”

With an expected saving of around R40-million litres of municipal water a year, the desalination plant is a sustainable measure the hotel is taking to do its part in the fight to save water.

Meyer explains that he is thrilled to be moving towards more eco-friendly and sustainable initiatives such as the desalination plant.

“We can’t be happier; this plant is testament of our commitment to sustainable water initiatives and conserving this precious resource. We remain committed to our other water-smart initiatives, it’s critical that we keep working on them to ensure the maximum effectiveness of this plant,” he says.

A secret garden

This is not the only eco-friendly project the hotel has implemented; it also boasts its very own hidden rooftop herb garden.

The garden is in an inconspicuous area and is tended to weekly by a professional gardener. With multiple bushes of edible flowers, strawberries, chillies and more, it is another welcome green addition to the hotel.

All excess water from the garden is collected by an automated drip irrigation system which collects excess water to be recycled through a pump. A small-scale wormery is located in the garden and kitchen food waste is fed to the worms to produce a fertiliser which in turn nourishes the plants.

“The rooftop garden serves as a great eco-friendly resource in the growing methods we practice, and provides nutritionally-dense produce that we can control from a safety and quality perspective, which is a big part of our hotel wellness and responsible tourism movement,” says Meyer.

The hidden herb, fruits and flower gardens at the Westin. Picture by Ishani Chetty

Picture: The Westin, Facebook

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about animals, social issues, the environment and current affairs.