David Burnett
Photo by David Burnett.

What do ya do mate when you’re out in Western Australia, the suns beating down on ya back, not a drop of water for miles or, a roadside tavern in sight? You open a desalination plant of course … cobber.

Perth’s $387 million desalination plant in Kwinana was officially opened on April 18th. Australia’s first large-scale seawater desalination plant has been delivering drinking water into the city’s supply system since November last year.

The plant reached full capacity last month and produces about 130 million litres of drinking water per day, about 17 per cent of Perth’s water consumption.

“Our drying climate has resulted in an unprecedented threat to the lifestyle we enjoy in Western Australia,” Premier Alan Carpenter said. Mr Carpenter also said steady progress was being made towards achieving the 2012 water recycling target of 20 per cent, with the current recycling at 13 per cent.

According to this blog the plant’s operations are even powered by a nearby wind farm.

Some people aren’t happy about this approach to WA’s water problem. You can read their views right here mate.

Water doesn’t mix with oil but, they are the two biggest resource issues of our times.

This entry was posted in Climate change, Energy, Politics, Recycling, Sustainablity, Water. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to WATER

  1. Pete Smith says:

    What is it with people and conspiracy theories? I thought the Aussies were too down-to-earth to play these silly games, but no. It’s nothing to do with climate change-induced drought apparently, it’s all down to the water board trying to cover its butt after long-term mismanagement.

  2. matt says:

    I know, I can’t quite figure this one out either. It seems the water company has planned ahead, found the money and got the job done. And hooked into a local wind farm to boot. Yes efficiency is important but, the residents of Perth appear to have become quite good at this out of necessity over recent years anyhow!

    So, I put this project down as a good solution and lets face it, how many times have we been able to say that!

  3. ClareCat says:

    Disregarding whether drought has been induced by climate change or not (drought is a regular occurrence in Australia and the severity of droughts has a lot to do with El Nino currents in the Pacific), Perth has a dry climate and we could never rely on rainfall for our water needs. (Kwinana is a suburb of Perth.) Thus we get our water from other sources: groundwater mounds and now desalination. The former is dependent on rainfall and so is not sustainable at the levels we extract it. The latter is resource intensive (it took a huge amount of money to build the plant) and there are more efficient ways to manage water supply.

    Sydney, on the other side of Australia is having similar problems with water supply and desalination plants have been discussed as a solution. Patrick Troy, Darren Holloway & Bill Randolph believe desalination is unnecessary and discussed
    >practical measures to make households water-independent
    in their article “Saving Sydney’s water” in the Summer 2005/06 issue of Dissent magazine. Unfortunately the article is not available online. They believe that households should collect their own rainfall (although this is not as reliable in Perth as it is in Sydney), but more importantly water should be recycled within the household. Recycling water does not mean drinking sewerage (black water)! It means re-using grey water for flushing of toilets, laundry and use in gardens or landscaping. Black water from toilets may be treated on site in composting toilets, etc (although this is not always possible).

    These ideas can be scaled up for use in industry. Grey water would be used for different things and may need some in-house treatment. The main point is that every household or company, factory, farm, etc is responsible for their own water use and re-use. They may be connected to scheme water (particularly for drinking and washing), but making the best use of water will ensure water, and money, is not wasted.

    It may sound airy-fairy, but government interventions thru building codes, incentives for installing the necessary infrastructure, etc could make it a possibility.

  4. matt says:

    Appreciate your detailed feedback Clare and agree that water recycling where possible should become more wide spread.

    The use of water butts are becoming very popular here, particularly with hosepipe bans becoming increasingly common. In 2006 in the South-east of England we had a ban that lasted for 7 months! This April is the warmest on record and we haven’t seen rain for 5 weeks … and yes we are talking rainy ole England here! Needless to say my olive tree is doing very well under these mediterranean conditions.

    It does sound as though Perth is making the right water utility investment decisions under the circumstances. I’m doubtful however that the wind farm is providing all or even most of the power to the desalination plant.

  5. Pingback: More Desalination? « Ockham’s Razor

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