Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Yarragadee is safe!

5/05/07
This is bloody good news.

Premier of the State of West Australia, Alan Carpenter, has announced that a second seawater desalination plant powered by renewable energy will be Western Australia’s next major water source.

In making the announcement, Mr Carpenter shelved Water Corporation plans to utilise the South West Yarragadee aquifer for the integrated water supply system.

“The internationally acclaimed wind-powered Kwinana seawater desalination plant has demonstrated that large quantities of water from an unlimited ocean supply can be provided using a clean and green process,” the Premier said.

“Unlike SW Yarragadee and traditional water sources, it is also climate independent.

The proposed site for a second desalination plant is at a Water Corporation wastewater treatment facility on Taranto Road north of Binningup - adjacent to a disused limestone quarry. It is expected to have minimal environmental and visual impact on the area, but will be subject to the usual approval processes.

The new plant will provide at least 45 gigalitres of water a year into the integrated water supply system by the end of 2011, with potential to increase to 100 gigalitres. Similar to the Kwinana plant, it will be powered by renewable energy.

“We can no longer rely on traditional, seasonal climate patterns and rainfall,” the Premier said.

“Seawater desalination is clearly the best long term feasible and practical option for our State, along with more water recycling initiatives.

The Premier said that while the SW Yarragadee aquifer had effectively received environmental approval, it remained a source that was still reliant on climate and rainfall.

“More work therefore needs to be done on assessing the full impact of climate change and declining rainfall on the south west and on the SW Yarragadee aquifer,” Mr Carpenter said.

He said the Government was also actively researching a major aquifer recharge recycling project north of Perth, which had the potential to yield an extra 25 gigalitres.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not bloody good news if you have chosen to live in an area of pristine coastline and have just been "told" that a plant twice the size of Kwinana is going to be situated less than 1km from your family home - We already have an industrial area (Kemerton)4km east of the coast in the Binningup area, put some extra funds in and pump the water to that site instead of stuffing up more of our coastline.....bloody ignorance on behalf of the decision makers more like it!

Jon Doust said...

Good point, anon.
Two more points.
1 - If you are blaming the Save Yarragadee campaigners for your plight - wrong target.
2 - Pick the right target - Water Policy Makers - go for them and offer alternatives. Never once, in all my campaigning did I promote a desal plant.
Here are some measures I have recommended in the past:
- water recycling plants
- fund development of Max Whisson's Water Windmill (it extracts large amounts of water from the atmosphere)
- a total sprinkler ban
- price increase
- ban on water guzzling garden plants and huge lawns
- stringent water efficiency requirements for industry and primary production
- all water bores to be metered

Footnote: Given the evidence around Perth and other major Australian cities of the drop in water tables, the drying up of lakes, swamps and other water courses, it is clear the excessive tapping of underground water has had a major and disastrous impact. The Yarragadee is already tapped by City and Shire Councils and private operators and wells have been shifted because of sea-water seepage. Just try for a minute to imagine the consequences to the South West of a major drop in water table, or a massive seepage of sea water.

Anonymous said...

I'm not targeting the campaigners, it is the policy and decision makers who in this instance seem to have based their decision on finding what is the most economical site for them without taking into account the environmental and aethestic effects that it will have to our coastline. I would actually choose desal plants as a preferred option to the Yarragadee although with the amount of desal plants currently being constructed world wide it is a concern as to their longterm effect on our oceans. Public meetings in Binningup and Myalup (towns south and north of proposed site) over the last two nights have had capacity crowds and it was made clear at the meeting that many issues have to be addressed before Desal2 can be a goer. Unfortunately many of the "experts" brought in to answer queries were only made aware of the site a couple of weeks ago and were unsure about many of the issues raised - many questions and concerns were unanswered because the didn't have any idea. The presentation which they gave us was based on the Kwinana site, then towards the very end of meeting it was quickly mentioned that Desal 2 was aiming for twice the output of Kwinana. When asked if this also meant twice the physical footprint, the answer was yes meaning that all the previous info regarding land useage and buffer zones was irrelevant to site 2. Desal 2 has not as yet had the approval of the EPA - so much has not as yet been considered. Hopefully public opinions can hold some weight with this issue, otherwise the Harvey Shire is going to have some very unhappy rate payers if the response at the meetings is anything to go by. I was standing near a reporter from The West Aust during the meeing so keep your eye on the paper to see her response. To date, newspaper articles have been quite positive about Desal 2

Jon Doust said...

Good work, anon. Keep at them.
I am about to embark on another writing campaign and I will push your case.
Is there a good case for building the plant in Kemerton? Do we know how impact the extra infrastructure would have on the area? And that stretch of coastline, what was planned for it? Is it protected, zoned for housing with lawns and palms?

Anonymous said...

Kemerton itself has the available land/buffer zones for a plant this size (especially since public pressure terminated the building of an approved toxic waste plant there last year), there is already a pipeline from Kemerton to the coast but research would need to be done as to where any new pipelines would need to be established to cause minimal impact, also as to where the pumping station would be situated.
Another major cause for concern is that the outlet pipe was to be situated only 500mtrs - 800mtrs off shore!!