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With just months left until Cape Town authorities say the city will run out of water, the city’s first bottling plant to make “water from air” is now up and running.
Cape Air Water CEO Brendan Williamson said the company, with its unit based at a warehouse in Killarney Gardens, began operating two weeks ago and has already sold a “good few cases”. The machine, supplied by Durban company Airwater, produces water from condensation in the air.
The Airwater machine can presently produce 700 to 800 litres a day
Williamson said the machine can presently produce between 700 and 800 litres a day. He expects to supply mainly hotels and restaurants in the city.
His bottled water is already being sold for R7.99 a 500ml bottle by Spar, which he says is about R1 more than spring-bottled water. While he admits that it’s “not cheap water”, he argues that the taste of his water is “unbelieveable”.
The units retail for between R785 000 and R1.5-million and are produced in South Africa. He estimates that it will take about 13 months to pay off the initial cost of the machine as well as the warehouse and cooling-facility that the unit is housed in.
The machines rely on electricity (which in South Africa is produced mainly by water intensive coal-fired power stations) to produce the water. However, Williamson argues that even ordinary piped water relies on electricity to drive the distribution pumps.
On request of clients, he plans to bottle some of the water in glass bottles, which he says will make it a more sustainable option to the recycled plastic bottles the company uses currently. “I’m all about the green. I want to help the community,” he adds.
Commenting on the new plant, Airwater CEO Ray de Vries says he has received alot of interest from the rest of Africa as well as from the Middle East for the units, but that with demand so high the company will only be able to deliver the next units by April.
In addition to the unit in operation in Cape Town, two machines are in use in Thailand and four in the north of KwaZulu-Natal. A further two are en route to Australia at present, he added.
He said so far about 240 of the company’s smaller imported “water-cooler” sized units have been sold to Cape Town clients — about 90% of which are home users. The company has dispatched two further shipments of 240 units each to the city.
Most of his sale, he says, have been generated by the large amount of media publicity the machines have attracted, he says.
Featured image: Cape Air Water CEO Brendan Williamson from airwatergroup via Twitter