Anyone reading my blog knows I think the Western Australian Government has been very premature in opting for very expensive and high environmental impact seawater desalination to augment Perth water supplies when several other vastly cheaper options are available to harvest free rainwater in both dams and local rivers or local Perth region groundwater.
Just quickly to recap the three main areas where supplies could be augmented much cheaper than seawater desalination.
- Managing bush in dam catchments as it was done ten years ago could add 100 GL per year on average.
- Cutting the Gnangara pines forthwith and replacing them with a mix of native vegetation and housing could add a similar amount to annual pumping potential on the Gnangara Mound groundwater.
- The Avon and Murray rivers could easily supply up to say 75 GL per year of slightly saline water which could augment the Agritech Wellington Dam desalination project to around 100 GL per year.
OK ! Have I made my point that turning to ultra-expensive seawater desalination for Perth was totally unnecessary ? In other words, another HUGE COSTLY GOVT MISTAKE.
Now some questions that puzzle me about the current situation.
- We have a foreign company (or companies ?) engaged in doing multi-billion dollar business (must total $5 to 10 Billion now) with three or four State Governments and yet how many people knows who this company is ?
- What appears in the Australian media about the foreign desalination company(ies) ?
- Do they say anything in public in their own right ?
I have been told by a academic water expert from a prestigious Perth university, the sort of place the media contact for quotes on water stories, that “..the technology for desalination is moving forward at an unbelievable rate..”.
Yet the WA Govt. Water Corporation say water from our first seawater desalination plant at Kwinana costs $1.20 per kilolitre but water from the proposed Binningup plant will cost $2.00 per kilolitre. Both water factories are planned to output 45 GL or potable water per year.
Put another way, the Kwinana plant with cost over-runs has cost nearly $500 Million but the proposed Binningup plant is estimated already to be ~$1Billion, over-runs still to come. Are seawater desalination construction costs sky-rocketing like this around the world ?
I am also interested to learn if the proposed $1 Billion Binningup plant was put out for international tender ?
Another issue puzzles me and that is who has been behind the concept that has been floated often in our media in recent years and was even the subject of a referendum in Toowoomba, SE Queensland. This notion that our water shortage is so acute that in some communities we could be forced to drink treated sewage. I am fascinated to learn who has been driving these media campaigns.
Enough questions for now.