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The Proposed Desalination Plant Of Kurnell, Botany Bay

1378 words - 6 pages

There has been large debate within the community of Sutherland Shire Council concerning the proposed desalination plant at Kurnell. The government has announced that this plant will be built to solve Sydney's current water crisis, however this comes at a heavy price. The $2 billion project will not only cost the government but it will also raise the water bill for Sydney households. There are many arguments both for and against this proposed plant and it simply comes down to the question "which one is more important?" The desalination plant uses a process called reverse osmosis. Sea water is pushed through a fine mesh to filter out the salt resulting in fresh water. It is estimated that the plant will convert 500 megalitres of drinkable water each day during a drought which will supply water for 1.4 million people (a third of Sydney's population). This will assure that during drought season, Sydney's water supply will not be undermined. The desalination plant will also be in use in non-drought periods, producing 125 million litres of water per day. However this mass desalination of water involves many negative consequences. It is argued that this desalination plant is environmentally and financially unsound. A plant as large as this would require 900 gig watt hours of electricity each year. This would result in a significantly higher output of carbon dioxide emissions which are a main contributor to global warming which in turn is contributing to the water crisis. The energy used in this plant is equivalent to the energy use of 120,000 households. The plant would also produce concentrated salt residue and hot brine which will be dumped into the ocean damaging the marine habitats. Marine life will also be at risk of being sucked into the massive pipes with approximately 78,000 fish and 52,000 invertebrates being impinged each year.

There are three potential areas as to where the desalination plant will be built. It was decided that it will be built alongside Caltex Oil Refinery within the industrial area adjacent to the Captain Cook Landing Place Historic Site.

In 2005, Sydney had been facing a severe water crisis and alternative methods were needed for water conservation. The New South Wales government then released a Metropolitan Water Plan for securing Sydney's long-term water supply. In this Water Plan, there had been a proposition for the building of a desalination plant at Kurnell. However the plan had received strong negative feedback from the local community of southern Sydney. The government then released a progress report on the Metropolitan Plan in February 2006 stating that Sydney's water supply is still secure without the establishment of the desalination plant for the time being. However once the dam storage levels reach below 30 percent, the construction of a desalination plant could be built almost immediately. This has raised some concern among the members against the plant proposal with the members of the Sutherland Shire...

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