Cape Town’s water crisis, albeit an imminent threat looming over the South African city, might be pushed back even further. Nick Sloane, a marine salvage expert, has suggested that towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Cape Town could push back Day Zero by a whole year.
The iceberg, which would be towed to Cape Town, could potentially provide Cape Town’s residents with 150 million liters (40 million gallons) of freshwater. The extra water would suffice about 30 percent of the city’s annual consumption, according to Quartz.
In order for the iceberg to be moved and allocated appropriately, it needs to be one kilometer (0.6 miles) in length, 500 meters (1640 feet) wide, and 250 meters (820 feet) deep. Additionally, the ideal iceberg would have a flat surface.
To move the iceberg to Cape Town, it would be towed across a distance spanning some 2,000 kilometers (1242 miles). There is a likelihood, however, that the iceberg will melt during the towing, which is why officials will wrap the ice formation in insulation to ensure that it gets to Cape Town with minimal mass lost to melting.
While bringing an iceberg is a potential remedy for Cape Town’s water scarcity, it definitely does not come cheap. Additionally, the potential challenges to iceberg solution make the costs almost nonsensical since the projected cost of towing the iceberg is approximately $100 million. According to Sloane, the money would come from private investors and Sloane and his partners would only charge the funders the transportation cost.
Cape Town is not the first city to struggle with water scarcity nor is it the first to want to extract water for an iceberg. Earlier this month, the Khaleej Times reported that the UAE’s National Advisor Bureau Limited (NABL) plans to tow icebergs from as far as Perth, Australia to the Arabian Gulf.
Earlier this year, officials in Cape Town announced that the city was running out of water and would soon have none left for its residents. After announcing what they called Day Zero, which is when the city is going to turn taps off – initially slated for April 29th – was approaching, city residents were forced to cut back on their consumption.
As water resources depleted, many residents turned to cutting back on their water consumption through taking less showers and relying on the usage of brackish water. A restaurant in Cape Town called S/Zalt also held a dinner using food they grew with a farming technique known as saline agriculture, which uses less freshwater than more conventional methods.