Victorian desalination plant

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Wonthaggi desalination plant site
Wonthaggi desalination plant site

Plans to build a desalination plant at Wonthaggi in Victoria, Australia, were announced by the Bracks Labor government[1]

Contents

Information about the plant

  • Household water bills are expected to double over the next five years to pay for a $4.9 billion water strategy to secure Melbourne's water supplies
  • Estimated water production is 150 billion litres (150 gigalitres) of fresh water per year, approximately a third of metropolitan Melbourne's needs based on 2007 consumption levels.
  • The plant is planned to be operations by the end of 2011
  • It is intended that the plant will provide additional water to Melbourne, Geelong, Western Port and South Gippsland.
  • The plant is estimated to use about 90 mega watts (MW) of power per day. While a commitment was made to use renewable energy to power the plant in an attempt to make it greenhouse neutral, it is likely the plant will be powered by a co-located gas fired power station, which will produce signficant greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The plant is expected to emit 200 million tonnes of brine to the ocean.
  • The plant will be constructed using a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and could end up being foreign owned.
  • The Bracks government opposed the construction of a desalination plant during the 2006 Victorian State election, but reversed its position after the election and committed to building it.
  • There was no proper public consultation process that provided input to inform the Government decision to build the plant.
  • Signficant energy (with associated greenhouse gas emissions) will be required to pump desalinated water frm Wonthaggi.

Costs

  • The construction cost is estimated to be $3 billion
  • Operating costs (most likely charged by a private firm) over a 25 year period could reach $1.5 billion[2]
  • Melbourne Water estimates the cost of production of desal water to be $3000 a megalitre

Alternatives

  • The capital cost of the plant would could equip about 600,000 households with tank systems and pumps (at $5000 per house) that could provide more water than the plant's estimated production. Combined with recycling sewerage water and protecting our catchments, we may not even need desalination.
  • Stopping logging in Melbourne's water catchments would provide and extra 30 gigalitres of water, which would be much cheaper than paying for the same amount of water to be provided by desalination. This water would also not require pumping to Melbourne.

External links

References

  1. Bracks announces $5 billion water plan, The Age, June 19, 2007
  2. Foreigners bid for desalination deal, Herald Sun, March 03, 2008
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