Desalinated water starts flowing in Victoria

Monday, 20 March, 2017

The first water from the Victorian Desalination Plant, located in the seaside town of Wonthaggi, has begun to flow into the Cardinia Reservoir. The plant was originally announced in June 2007 and was completed in December 2012, though it was only recently called into service.

Melbourne’s water storages have fallen by 97 GL, or 5.3%, since December last year. Rainfall across the four main catchments is currently 23% below the 30-year average, with 10 out of the last 12 weeks recording below average inflows into Melbourne’s storages. The latest Bureau of Meteorology data shows temperatures in March will be well above average and rainfall at a decade-long low, while climate modelling suggests there is an increased chance of El Niño forming later this year.

The benefits of the plant are thus expected to reach well beyond Melbourne, bringing water security to communities across regional Victoria. It will also bring extra security in the future to communities like Korumburra in South Gippsland, which is set to face water restrictions.

Based on a similar initiative in South Australia, Victoria will introduce a minimum annual water order from the desalination plant to be reviewed in three years, ensuring continued water security, better plant management and more steady prices for customers. Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville has also confirmed that water customers will not face additional charges on their water bills for this year’s 50 GL water order or the subsequent three minimum water orders.

“We’ve learnt the lessons from the millennium drought and this secures our water supplies at a time when our reserves are decreasing,” said Neville.

“The plant was not built to be turned on just when our water supply reached critical levels; instead its aim is to make sure that our supply doesn’t fall to those levels in the first place.”

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