Desalination Plant

Jack Trickey.

Introduction

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.

Facts of the situation

it will generate 150 billion litres of additional water each year - a third of Melbourne's annual water supply. It is estimated to cost more than $3billion Desalination is the process by which salt and other impurities are removed from seawater to produce fresh water. Large quantities of seawater are drawn into the plant, solids are removed and the water is mixed with chemicals to kill any organisms. The water is then forced through a series of fine membranes (reverse osmosis) to further filter out impurities. The salt (brine) concentrate is then pumped back into the sea.

Potential economic benfits of trhe project.

It will aid Australia significantly in regards to helping with its summer drought problems. this plant will already supply a third of Victorias fresh water which means we will not have to waste time and money building more drains in order to import more water into Victoria. This extra water will also make a significant difference in summer when we need to prepare our rural areas for fire season.

Enviromental 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.
Some have criticised the scope of the environment effects statement and are concerned about the effects of chemical and salt (brine) discharge on marine life and wetlands. The Government has urged consumers to limit water consumption to 155 litres a person a day. However, despite recent improvements, Melburnians reportedly rate among the world's biggest water wasters. Critics say a desalination plant perpetuates this problem.

How an economic decision like this would be made.

For an economic decision of this magnitude to be made there must be a clear confident vote that there will be more pro's than con's in regards to how much it will cost, how long it will take to build, and on to how much money this investment will ultimately save tax-payers in the given area. For a project such as this to succeed it must not only make people money, but also save it. As most men with common sense already know, we need to find a long-term solution to our notorious water problems and as summer is only getting hotter it is more important than ever to decide on this project.