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Political Parties >> Sustainability Party of Australia >> limit use of desal plant: academic

Message started by freediver on Jan 30th, 2010 at 3:53pm

Title: limit use of desal plant: academic
Post by freediver on Jan 30th, 2010 at 3:53pm
Desal plant should only be used when dams fall below 15pc, says academic

THE contentious Kurnell desalination plant in Sydney has been attacked as unnecessary, too expensive and damaging to the environment just weeks before it starts pumping billions of litres into the city's water supply.

Water experts, environmental groups and the NSW opposition have refocused their criticism of the $1.9 billion plant -- which will operate at full capacity for the first two years -- with calls for the plant to be mothballed after its proving period ends.

Stuart White, director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, thinks the plant should not be used unless the dam levels supplying water to Sydney fall to 15 per cent of capacity.

Dam levels in the Sydney catchment area are currently at 51.4 per cent, while the main Warragamba dam is at 49.8 per cent.

"It's just not needed," Professor White says. "It's financially risky and an unnecessary asset."

The plant can produce up to 250 million litres a day and provide up to 15 per cent of the Sydney water supply.

For a two-year proving period it will be run at full capacity to check for defects regardless of dam levels. Sydney Water has conceded this will be reflected in higher water bills for customers.

Professor White claims this approach distorts the economic logic of supply and demand.

"It's a waste of money if the water's not needed. Desalination plants are an emergency drought-response measure . . . we'd be spending the operating cost of 70-80 cents per cubic metre (of water produced) for no reason."

The NSW Labor government has shrugged off the criticism, saying it is committed to securing the future of Sydney's water supply.

NSW Water Minister Phillip Costa told The Weekend Australian it was essential to test the facility, and said the plant would combat the challenge of population growth over the next 25-30 years. The Total Environment Centre has claimed the plant will unnecessarily contribute to greenhouse gases.

NSW opposition natural resource management spokeswoman Katrina Hodgkinson believes the plant will run at full capacity for a further two years but the government denies this.

Water charges are set to spiral in desalination squeeze

HOUSEHOLDS will pay hundreds of dollars extra for water as state governments splash $9 billion of taxpayer funds on energy-guzzling desalination plants that will produce nearly a third of capital-city supplies within two years.

The seawater purification "factories" - which can pump out enough drinking water each year to fill Sydney Harbour - will operate around the clock at taxpayer expense, even when high rainfall means their expensive output is not required.

Water utilities yesterday warned urban water prices would spiral in line with the rising cost of electricity needed to operate the massive plants in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

The Water Services Association of Australia, representing most of the urban water utilities nationally, estimated water providers would use up to four times as much electricity as they moved from dams to desalination.

"The cost of building desalination plants will be reflected in water prices across Australia," executive director Ross Young told The Weekend Australian.

"Electricity prices are only going to go upwards, so operational costs are probably going to climb steadily.

"In places like Melbourne in the next four years (water) prices are going to double."

By 2012, water bills for Sydneysiders will rise $103 a year purely to pay for the cost of running the city's first desalination plant, costing $2.4bn, due to open at Kurnell within weeks.

Household water bills will soar nearly a third - from $663 to $904 - in the Melbourne metropolis over the next three years, once a $3.5bn plant - the nation's biggest - comes online at the end of next year.

In southeast Queensland, where a $1.2bn desalination plant opened on the Gold Coast last year, water bills are forecast to rise about $60 annually until 2013.

In Adelaide, where a $1.83bn plant will open at the end of next year, water bills will increase $84 this year for an average household.

In Perth, which will open its second plant next year, the average household water bill will rise 10 per cent over the next three years, costing high-use households as much as $164 a year more.

Mr Young said higher bills would give consumers an incentive to save water.

"Any resource given away free is always exploited," he said. "If water is priced too low there's no incentive for conservation or to upgrade infrastructure.

"We shouldn't underestimate the power of a price signal."

Ocean to deliver water for parched state

ONE-THIRD of Western Australia's drinking water will come from seawater by the end of next year as the state's second desalination plant eases pressure on Perth's biggest water source, the Gnangara Mound.

Title: Re: limit use of desal plant: academic
Post by sprintcyclist on Jan 30th, 2010 at 7:03pm

bit of a fix the state govt has put the people in there
built VERY expensive desal plants, too expensive to run.
Now experts say, don't use them !!!
Why build them ?

Must be a labor idea.

Title: Re: limit use of desal plant: academic
Post by Happy on Feb 4th, 2010 at 1:59pm
I wander why didn't they make it cheaper to run?
They even claim it is wind and solar operated, so it must be the filters and probably wages, possibly some renting charges and maybe GST.

I personally believe that desal plant is good idea, why worry about rain coming or not.

Pity technology used is so expensive to use it.
Must be labor behind it.

Title: Re: limit use of desal plant: academic
Post by freediver on Feb 4th, 2010 at 7:52pm
It is annoying when politicians pretend something is wind powered. Did they build extra turbines just for this project and incorporate that into the cost? While we are still building more coal fired power stations (which we are) then any big power hungry project is going to add to coal burning.

Title: Re: limit use of desal plant: academic
Post by hawil on Sep 2nd, 2010 at 8:26pm
There is another matter to be considered; the desal plants are very expensive to built and probably also to maintain if not in use.
furthermore the owner of the plant, be it government or private enterprise will expect a return on the investment and the easiest way to do that, is to slug the users of water.
NSW governments are experts to stuff things up; the T-card was the best example of that

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