Sea Water Desalination, Richards Bay, (South Africa)

Sea Water Desalination, Richards Bay, (South Africa)

South Africa suffers from severe drought in the past 5 years, facing an acute water shortage in the South-Eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The Provincial Cabinet issued a drought disaster declaration in December 2014, and the Emergency Water Transfer Scheme was activated in July 2014. The South African Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) decided to look for a solution to improve access and security of drinking water supply within the King Cetshwayo District Municipality.

  • Location: Richards Bay, KZN, South Africa
  • Project: Engineering, Procurement, Installation Supervision, Commissioning, Start-Up, Training and Remote Monitoring & Consultation Service.
  • Solution: Seawater Desalination (Reverse Osmosis)
  • Capacity: 10,000 m3/day


MEB completed a decentralized water desalination facility in 7 months. The innovative facility enables the communities in and around Richards Bay to avoid further hardship, following a prolonged drought.


The plant was delivered in only 4 months. With centralized intake, post-treatment and remote monitoring, the smart design ultimately makes the plant both more efficient and less costly in terms of infrastructure, equipment and operation and maintenance.


The NIROBOX-based plant is successfully desalinating seawater seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day to produce 10,000m3/d of potable, high quality drinking water to serve the local community of about 150,000 households.


Based on needs for rapid delivery, fast set-up, and immediate deployment, a plant based on 10 NIROBOX containerized SW RO (Sea Water Reverse Osmosis) units was contracted in August 2016. Because the entire plant is based on ten 40-foot shipping containers, it has an extremely small footprint and was rapidly deployed.

The NIROBOX SW desalination system is a modular, pre-assembled, containerized solution that’s ideal for a compact area with minimal infrastructure. It comes ready for integration with other systems and equipment and it completely modular, allowing for staged expansion to support capacity upgrades, if desired.