Drought pushes Sydney to choose desalination

Australia’s worst drought in 100 years pushed government officials to favor the construction of a US$ 1.

Australia’s worst drought in 100 years pushed government officials to favor the construction of a US$ 1.5 billion desalination plant in Sydney to process 500 million liters of seawater per day for drinking water purposes. The plant would take two years to build, but it faces opposition from environmentalists and residents of the Sydney suburb, Kurnell, the site of the proposed facility.

The Warragamba Dam supplies 80% of Sydney’s drinking water, but the long-term drought has severely affected dam levels. Dam capacity reached a record low of 34.8% capacity in June 2005. Wastewater recycling for drinking water is not an option, given public reluctance.

A government report, published on 5 May, claimed that Sydney’s water supply would fall short of demand because of population growth, drought, climate change and the unhealthy state of rivers that feed city dams. The government estimates city population will increase to 4.9 million by 2021.

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