Desal water never needed

WONTHAGGI’S Aileen Vening has told The Star the State Government’s order of 50 gigalitres from the Wonthaggi desalination plant was not justified.
Aileen has even gone a step further saying it may never be needed.
Melbourne’s water capacity is currently at 60.9 percent – 7.5 percent lower than the same time last year.
The State Government confirmed it would not cancel its order, as it will go some way to replacing the decrease in storage levels experienced over the last few years without creating a significant impact on customer costs – an additional $12 per household water bill in the metropolitan area will be the result.
While drought was suffered by Victorians during the recent summer season, Ms Vening said there needed to be a string of dry seasons before resorting to activating the plant.
“There are many reasons why developing the desalination plant was a bad idea – why it will never be a good idea,” she said.
“It compromises biodiversity and the health of our ocean. It’s a political gesture with no benefits to Bass Coast. Melbourne didn’t have water restrictions at all at the time the order was put in.
“The system has played on fear. They played on the fear that Melbourne would run out of water. I don’t think anything would’ve stopped this order going ahead.”
Melbourne Water general manager integrated planning Chris Williams said Melbourne’s water storages experienced a downward trend over the past two years, including extremely low inflows in 2015 – lower than the average during the millennium drought.
“These conditions over the past summer dried out the soil in the catchments, which means we will need average or above average rain over an extended period to start to help Melbourne’s storage levels recover significantly,” he said.
“The desalination plant is part of Melbourne’s integrated and flexible water supply system, which helps support our city and the region through challenges like population growth, extended drought, climate change and natural disasters.”
“Storage levels don’t always rise when it rains. Just like a sponge, dry catchment soils absorb available moisture to support vegetation, leaving little or none to run off into reservoirs.”
Storage levels rose by just 0.6 percent in June, as even though catchment rainfall was only 1.4 percent below average, stream flow into Melbourne’s four major harvesting storages was 21.8 percent below average.
Although the State Government has claimed the desalination plant a necessity, many Bass Coast residents are adamant it was never a welcomed development.
When the desalination was first proposed, there were many protests and public meetings to stop the development from going ahead. People were arrested and convictions were recorded in attempt to preserve the coastline, and when it went ahead anyway people were left feeling angry and betrayed.
“If it had been in a marginal electorate, this would never have happened. They never would’ve put in Portsea or Torquay. I think we are regarded as a less educated, poorer community and the system took advantage of that,” she said.
In terms of climate change, Ms Vening said the use of the desalination plant will not be a critical factor, but will certainly factor into the greenhouse emissions in the state.
Ms Vening said the order could’ve been avoided if people were better educated about water saving.
“People need to learn to be more conscientious when it comes to water. Encouraging people to use more water is an inappropriate philosophy that will end up costing us more,” she said.
“The desalination plant – just sitting there as is – is a cost to taxpayers. I assume it costs more when an order is put in. It’s all about the big picture and who is really benefiting. This development was never about the little people. It’s about big corporations. There’s no measurable benefit to Wonthaggi.”

Water waste: Wonthaggi’s Aileen Vening claimed there was no justification for the 50 gigalitre order from the Wonthaggi desalination plant and people should be better educated about water saving.

Water waste: Wonthaggi’s Aileen Vening claimed there was no justification for the 50 gigalitre order from the Wonthaggi desalination plant and people should be better educated about water saving.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=19149

Posted by on Jul 19 2016. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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