Second seawater desalination plant to be Western Australia's next major water source

May 30, 2007
Premier Alan Carpenter has announced that a second seawater desalination plant powered by renewable energy will be Western Australia's next major water source. In making the announcement, Carpenter shelved Water Corporation plans to utilise the South-West Yarragadee aquifer for the integrated water supply system. "The internationally acclaimed wind-powered Kwinana seawater desalination plant has demonstrated that large quantities of water from an unlimited ocean supply...

PERTH, Western Australia, May 15, 2007 -- Premier Alan Carpenter has announced that a second seawater desalination plant powered by renewable energy will be Western Australia's next major water source.

In making the announcement, Carpenter shelved Water Corporation plans to utilize the South-West Yarragadee aquifer for the integrated water supply system.

"The internationally acclaimed wind-powered Kwinana seawater desalination plant has demonstrated that large quantities of water from an unlimited ocean supply can be provided using a clean and green process," he said.

"Unlike the South-West Yarragadee and traditional water sources, it is also climate independent.

"That is why the State Government has decided that the next major water source can be provided by the seawater desalination process.

"I have asked the Water Corporation to immediately start developing the State's second major seawater desalination plant."

The proposed site for a second desalination plant is at a Water Corporation wastewater treatment facility on Taranto Road north of Binningup -- adjacent to a disused limestone quarry. It is expected to have minimal environmental and visual impact on the area, but will be subject to the usual approval processes.

The new plant will provide at least 45 gigaliters of water a year into the integrated water supply system by the end of 2011, with potential to increase to 100 gigaliters. Similar to the Kwinana plant, it will be powered by renewable energy.

The Water Corporation has advised that the estimated cost of building the second desalination plant will be $640 million. An additional $315 million will be required for integrating it into the water supply system.

Last week's State Budget allocated $750 million over the next four years for a new water source. An additional $205 million will be allocated in the 2011-12 financial year.

"We can no longer rely on traditional, seasonal climate patterns and rainfall," the Premier said.

"Seawater desalination is clearly the best long term feasible and practical option for our State, along with more water recycling initiatives.

"When you compare the seawater desalination process to transporting water from the Kimberley, there is no comparison.

"The cost of water from the desalination process is at least three times cheaper than the Kimberley option and it comes from an unlimited source in the Indian Ocean.

"Put another way, for the cost of building a pipeline from the Kimberley, we could build at least 12 desalination plants and get three times more water at one third of the price per kilolitre."

Carpenter said that while the South-West Yarragadee aquifer had effectively received environmental approval, it remained a source that was still reliant on climate and rainfall.

"More work therefore needs to be done on assessing the full impact of climate change and declining rainfall on the South-West and on the South-West Yarragadee aquifer," he said.

The Premier said that while desalinating the Wellington Dam was a live option, it was still a long way off being feasible.

He said the Government was also actively researching a major aquifer recharge recycling project north of Perth, which had the potential to yield an extra 25 gigaliters.

"The State Government is securing WA's future water supplies through a diverse range of strategies including developing new water sources, dramatically increasing water recycling, maintaining and expanding demand management initiatives and encouraging water trading," Carpenter said.

"This has resulted in WA being recognized as the nation's leader in water resource management to the extent that Perth is the only major capital city in Australia where people can use sprinklers through summer -- despite our driest year on record last year."

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Also see: "Desalination plant officially open"

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