VICTORIAN DESALINATION PLANT

Salt in the wound?

Facts About The Situation

  • The Wonthaggi Desalination Plant (also referred to as the Victorian Desalination Project) is a water desalination plant currently under construction on the Bass Coast near Wonthaggi, in southern Victoria, Australia
  • The Victorian Desalination Plant, located on the Bass Coast, is a rainfall-independent source of water capable of supplying up to 150 billion litres a year
  • Overall, the number of workers on the project is now 2870, well above original estimates that only 1700 would be needed to build the plant in two years
  • The desalination plant will cost Victorians $24 billion over 28 years through higher water bills

Potential Econmic Benefits

  • Flexible water orders can be made from 0 to 150 billion litres (in set increments) to suit different needs each year.The plant can be expanded to 200 billion litres a year, if required.
  • The Desalination Plant has alot of jobs supplied for people. Overall, the number of workers on the project is now 2870, well above original estimates that only 1700 would be needed to build the plant in two years.

    Workers on the desalination site, which has been described as a "treasure island'', make $4000 a week.

  • 150 full-time equivalent jobs during operation
  • $1 billion economic boost to Victoria during construction
  • Increased spending in local areas by the construction workforce.
  • The Victorian Government committed up to $12 million to upgrade roads, reconstruct car parks and build roundabouts in the Wonthaggi area.

Possible Enviroment Concerns

  • In August 2008, a 1600-page environmental effects study report was prepared and found that; "...several protected species could be affected by the plant's construction and operation – including the orange-bellied parrot, the growling grass frog and the giant Gippsland earthworm – but none would be left "significantly" worse off."
  • The proposed Desal plant at Wonthaggi will cause 1.18 - 1.57 million tonnes of carbon emission equivalent to 365,000 extra cars on the road, discharge 8,800 litres of brine per second just 500 metres off the beautiful Bass coast, suck in and kill 380,000 small organisms per second into the plant.
  • But many experts say deslaination should be the solution of last resort as it involves huge amount of (CO2 pollutng) power, and generates tonnes of solid waste and brine sludge which is pumped back out to sea where it can affect the coastal marine environment.

How The Econmic Decision Was Made

All possible initiatives to ensure water sustainability have social ramifications and costs that need to be considered. This is true regardless of whether the option is water restrictions, rainwater tanks, dam expansion, water recycling, or desalination.

For example, one impact of water restrictions might be that playing surfaces in suburban sporting grounds become drier and harder, affecting the viability of weekend sporting clubs, their ability to pay insurance premiums, and ultimately, community health.

To make this large decision they had investigate into the amount of energy, the enviroment, what the benefits would be and what the negatives of the project would be. They chose to build it because they couldn't see victoria ever getting out of drought and they wanted the communities to still play their sport on nice fields.