Desal “tokenism” slammed

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Desal “tokenism” slammed

THE State Government has been accused of justifying the construction of the Wonthaggi desalination plant by announcing on Sunday it had placed the first order of water from the plant.

Watershed Victoria president Stephen Cannon said the water order was “typical Labor Government tokenism which will cost Melbourne water users dearly”.

“This is the first dry year that the Labor Government has been in power since they built the plant so it is their opportunity to justify having spent billions of dollars on the largest desalination plant in the world,” he said.

“The dams are 65 per cent full and we have got 1200 gigalitres in storage. So 50 gigalitres is nothing significant. It is not protecting us from drought. It is less than one per cent.”

Mr Cannon said the plant was of no benefit to the Bass Coast community.

“What is this costing us? That is a question we need answered. This is the government spending another 50 million dollars of our money. What is it going to achieve?” he asked.

“We are short on money for all forms of infrastructure. It is public money and it is our money and that often gets forgotten.”

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien agreed, adding the government’s comments that South Gippsland could be topped up by the desal plant was just another bid to justify the plant.

“We need to be very clear on this. Most farmers are not on town water and do not have the infrastructure to get piped water from the desal plant onto their properties. It is just a fallacy that switching on the desal could help farmers in South Gippsland,” he said.

“I am exploring alternative arrangements with the government to assist those farmers who are really struggling but desal water is not one of them. Even if desal water could be delivered to farms, it would be prohibitively expensive. It’s just not feasible.”

The government’s order will not affect household water bills in South Gippsland.

The government is also considering the possibility of expanding the plant from 150GL (150 billion litres) to 200GL in annual production size.

With the potential to be expanded to 200 billion litres annually, taxpayers could be looking at paying on average $48 extra on their desalinated water in the event the plant is switched on.

Aquasure, the company responsible for operating the plant, said the government may make a request to expand the plant and any additional costs for have not yet been calculated.

“The plant can produce up to 150GL of water a year and has the capability to be expanded to 200GL a year,” an Aquasure spokesperson said.

“The capital cost of constructing the Victorian Desalination Project was a fixed price $3.5 billion. This includes the plant, 84km underground transfer pipeline and 87km underground power supply. 

“An expansion of the plant can be requested by the state but, as would be expected, would have to be separately priced at the time of any such request.”

Aquasure has a 30 year contract with the desalination plant and while the facility was inactive since its 2012 development, recent depletion of Melbourne’s water storage reservoirs made the plant a necessity.

“We’ve always said the desalination plant is our insurance policy to secure our water supply and boost the amount of water available in the water grid. Now it’s in Victoria’s best interests that we call on that insurance,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

“As our population continues to grow and our state faces drought, we need to secure water supplies for Victorian communities and adding desalinated water will help us meet these challenges.”

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Posted by on Mar 8 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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