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Premier opens Australia's first major desalination plant

19 November 2006

The Premier of Western Australia, The Hon. Alan Carpenter MLA, today made the following statement relating to Water Corporation activities

The people of Perth are now drinking water sourced from the Indian Ocean.

Premier Alan Carpenter announced this morning that Australias first, large-scale seawater desalination plant was now operating at Kwinana and delivering drinking water into Perths public supply system.

The Premier drank from a glass of treated seawater this morning to mark the occasion.

"I am delighted that desalinated water is now circulating within Perth's supply system and that we have a major new source of fresh drinking water direct from the Indian Ocean," Mr Carpenter said.

"Western Australia has become the first State in Australia to use desalination as a major public water source.

"By harnessing water from the ocean, we have acquired an abundant source that is not dependent on rainfall.

"Our State is developing at an unprecedented rate and it is essential that we have access to substantial amounts of water to meet the huge demands being placed on our supply system."

The Kwinana desalination plant is an integral part of the State Government's security through diversity approach to water management. Other initiatives include accessing new surface and groundwater sources, water recycling programs, water trading with irrigators, the Waterwise rebate programs and catchment management.

The Kwinana plant will reach its maximum output in two months' time, and commissioning will be completed in April 2007.

When fully operational it will produce on average 130 million litres per day and supply 17 per cent of Perth's needs.

The new facility is also the largest facility of its kind in the world to be powered by renewable energy and highlights the State Government's commitment to promoting energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The plant buys its power needs from electricity generated by the Emu Downs Wind Farm near Cervantes, which the Premier opened on November 10.

Mr Carpenter said the desalination plant had been the subject of the most rigorous environmental approval procedures ever imposed on a completed Water Corporation development project.

"The Department of Environment and Conservation has set strict criteria for the brine discharge from the plant into Cockburn Sound," he said.

"The Water Corporation has responded by setting up the most intensive marine monitoring program of any desalination plant in the world to gauge the impact on the Sound.

"Studies carried out by the University of New South Wales have shown that in view of natural flushing of the Sound, salinity will increase by less than one per cent and there will be no adverse ecological effect."

The Premier praised the efforts of the former WA Premier, Dr Geoff Gallop, for his whole-hearted support of desalination to help overcome Perth's water crisis; and the Water Corporations chief executive officer, Dr Jim Gill, for the leadership he provided to the project team assembled for the $387million development.

Dr Gill said the project involved hundreds of designers, engineers, suppliers and constructors.

"They have produced a world class facility in less than two years - on time and on budget," he said.

"The Water Corporation, working with the private sector, has played a significant part in this project through the timely construction of 25km of water delivery pipelines and the largest pumping station in WA to distribute the water.

"The corporation worked in alliance with the Multiplex Degremont Joint Venture to design and construct the desalination plant, which will be operated by Degremont Australia in alliance with the Water Corporation for the next 25 years.

"Iwant to acknowledge the tremendous effort made by all involved in the project. They have every reason to be proud of their work on this pioneering project in the history of the Australian water supply industry."

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