Proposal Of The Desalination Plant

The Facts!

In 2007 the State Government announced plans to develop a desalination plant on Victoria's south-east coast, near Wonthaggi. The project received Federal Government approval on March 20 and is due for completion in 2011.

Potential Economic Benefits Of The Project

With declining water reserves and drought conditions persisting, the Government has opted for a reverse osmosis desalination plant as part of its plan to "drought proof" Melbourne. As desalination requires seawater rather than rainfall, it will generate 150 billion litres of additional water each year - a third of Melbourne's annual water supply. It will be the largest plant of its kind in Australia. The benefits of the potential project is that it will supply jobs for many people which will create more people becoming part of the community and living in Victoria's south-east coast.

Possible Environmental Concerns

Critics say desalination is not the answer to Victoria's water problems and should be considered only as a last resort. They say it's too expensive, and that its high energy demands will severely hamper efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They question the sense of increasing carbon emissions when climate change appears to be reducing rainfall.

It has also been criticised that the scope of the environment effects statement and are concerned about the effects of chemical and salt (brine) discharge on marine life and wetlands.

How an economic decision like this would be made

There has been speculation that the project may not go ahead if funding cannot be secured. However, both consortiums remain committed to the tendering process and the Government is determined to keep the project alive.

It is estimated to cost more than $3 billion, the plant will be built and operated as a public-private partnership, or PPP. This means the Government will work in partnership with a company or group of companies (consortium) from the private sector.

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By Anita Beale year 10