Desal plant comes with port caveat

Daniel Mercer and David SalvaireSound Telegraph
Fnished Kwinana desalination plant
Camera IconFnished Kwinana desalination plant Credit: Supplied

A plan to expand Kwinana’s desalination plant has been welcomed by the City of Kwinana providing the project does not clash with the proposed outer harbour.

An expanded desalination plant is shaping up as Perth’s next major water source after the Water Corporation spent $30 million buying land next to the facility.

The State-owned utility confirmed it had paid $30.5 million to acquire 15.2ha adjacent to the 50-billion-litre-a-year Perth Seawater Desalination Plant — Australia’s first.

With expectations Perth could need a major new source of drinking water within a few years unless there are reasonable winter rains, an expanded Kwinana plant is believed to be firming as the likeliest option.

City of Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams said the State Government body tasked with planning the outer harbour needed to oversee any developments in the area.

“At this stage the City has not entered into detailed discussions with the Water Corporation about the extension of the desalination plant, however the City welcomes discussions with companies wanting to do business or expand their business in Kwinana,” she said.

“The City recommends that any potential land transactions in the Kwinana Industrial Area are referred to the Westport Taskforce for comment to ensure proposals do not conflict with the planning of the outer harbour in Kwinana.”

The expansion would be designed initially to provide an extra 25 billion litres a year of scheme supplies and, while the Water Corporation would not speculate, it is understood the cost would be about $500 million.

Buying the Kwinana land comes after the Water Corporation only narrowly avoided having to fast-track a decision on building a major new water source when a dry start to winter threatened the security of supplies.

A relatively wet finish to winter and the best run-off into Perth’s dams in years negated the need for the decision.

However, the Water Corporation has advanced plans for the Kwinana expansion and other options to boost “sewage recycling” or build a desalination plant at Alkimos in Perth’s north.

Cut from here down if needed

Water Corp spokeswoman Clare Lugar said new sources were “only part of the picture” and the utility would always look to encourage more efficient use of water to defer major investments.

“As people would be aware, the south-west of WA is one of three places on the planet that is most impacted by climate change,” Ms Lugar said.

“That is why our water supply planning is not static.

“Water Corporation is constantly responding and adapting to changing circumstances, including climate change, by identifying and adding new sources when needed. The strategic land purchase was made to allow for the potential expansion of the existing Perth Seawater Desalination Plant, which is a potential future water source.”

She said Water Corp planning indicated new land could potentially allow an expansion of the desalination plant’s capacity by 25 billion litres of water each year.

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