Thursday, August 13, 2009

desal works in yarra ranges

report from the roundtable – 11 Aug
Just recently I learnt that pipe works for the Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi would be coming through a small part of the Shire of Yarra Ranges in order to deliver desalinated water to Cardinia Reservoir.

Part of the installation includes some removal of vegetation within the Lyster Ward. Melbourne Water met with the Shire to ask if we were okay about this. Given the Minister will be the responsible authority in relation to this project, council’s opinion is a moot point, however I think it is important that council articulate community concerns about the desalination project.

I am not remotely happy about works in Yarra Ranges or anywhere else for that matter.

Me, near the proposed Cardinia Desalination Integration Works in Yarra Ranges, Narre Warren East.
The desalination plant will generate 1.4million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions during construction and 1.2million tonnes of emissions during operation. The government has said that the 1.2million would be offset, however nothing has been said about the 70,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions generated from decomposing waste from the plant.

This desalination plant will intake 380,000 small marine organisms per second whilst discharging 8,800 litres of brine per second. This is an environmental disaster for this part of Victoria’s coastline. We can say goodbye to the tourism industry in the region, no one wants to visit a dead sea.

The works will be completed at the end of Duffy's Road, benefits offered for the loss of vegetation include sealing Duffy's Road, I'm not convinced in the long run if that's enough of a benefit.
There are much better options for securing water for Melbourne, it rains more on Melbourne than what Melburnians consume. Tanks, stormwater capture, mandatory water sensitive urban design, recycling and upgrading aging infrastructure are the way forward for securing Melbourne’s water.

A recent 2007 study found “rainwater tanks are five times more energy efficient that desalinations plants….Most Australian houses are suitable for a rainwater tanks…in Melbourne 72% of existing houses have potential for a rainwater tank….fewer than 6% of the houses in Melbourne have water tanks.”

At Tuesday night’s council meeting I urged my colleagues to join me in articulating concerns about the construction of the desalination plant, however it was not supported by the majority of councillors.

Advocating for better water solutions for our community is not new territory for Yarra Ranges, our stance on the North South Pipeline and logging in Melbourne’s water catchments both highlighted key issues of concern with water policy for Victoria.

Desalination is not a solution, just a lot of pollution.

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At 1:20 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Hi Samantha,

Do you know why that particular part of the coastline was chosen for the desal plant? It's very close to one of the marine national parks, so appears to be a poor choice as a location.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

Hi Liz, Neil Rankine, Vice President of Watershed says:

"Two issues as to why they decided to build the desal where they did:

1. Back in the late 70's a small feasibility study was undertaken as to whether desalination would ever be a suitable water source for Melbourne. A cross was drawn on the map at Wonthaggi and the facts and figures crunched. It was decided that desalination wouldn't be feasible in the forseable future. We reckon that when the Government panicked in early 2007 after the spring rains failed in 2006, and they made the decision to go for desal, they typed the word "desalination" into the parliamentary library computers and up came this old report from the 70's with the cross on it at Wonthaggi (at that stage Wonthaggi's state mine had closed a couple of years earlier and that might have been the reason for choosing Wonthaggi then, as a potential employer).

2. Once they started to think about it a bit more they would have had a hard time saying we need small desal plants after giving the Libs such grief during the election campaign on their small plants plan. Brumby (or others), being such a believer in infrastructure projects driving the state's expansion, must have made the decision to build a big one. I honestly believe either they didn't realise how big the scale they had proposed was, or they thought they'd better get in now, before carbon issues stopped such madness (there was talk of both major parties bringing in the 500,000 tonne CO2 trigger).
Now having decided on such a large one it had to go somewhere on the coast from the Mornington Peninsula to Barrys Beach because:
- Ocean scale mixing would be needed to disperse this much brine (although they probably hadn't realised that Bass Straight in this area doesn't mix well (not open Ocean but a confined Straight), and the specific sight at Wonthaggi has a 30km x 8km shelf that's very shallow (worst bit of coast in the area).
- To distribute this much water they had to have access near to the root of the dam distribution system which all flows East to South&West. They had to be on the East of Port Phillip Bay, Cardinia was OK, as 65% of Melbourne's water goes through there. Had the plant been built further down the Gippsland coast its output could have gone either into dams (existing or new), or could, (if they had thought about it) been incorporated into schemes like taking recycled water to the power stations, etc. Unfortunately using Cardinia will mean that that reservoir will no longer be a candidate for purified recycled water schemes like in QLD as the desal has taken all its capacity to accept new water."


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