Victorian Desalination Project
The Victorian Desalination Project is a rainfall-independent source of water capable of supplying up to 150 billion litres of water a year – or about one third of Melbourne's annual water consumption. It provides an insurance against future dry conditions by supplementing Melbourne's existing catchment supplies.
On 6 March 2016, the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water announced an order of 50 billion litres of water from the Victorian Desalination Project, to be delivered over the 2016/17 Supply Period (1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017). The media release for this announcement can be found here.
Flexible water orders can be made from 0 to 150 billion litres (in set increments) to suit different needs each year.
The plant, located on the Bass Coast near Wonthaggi, uses the most energy efficient desalination method - reverse osmosis. It includes energy recovery devices to reduce power consumption and long intake and outlet tunnels which not only draw in seawater but also protect the coast and marine environment by exiting beyond sensitive marine areas. The plant's world–class design includes Australia's largest green roof and is surrounded by a 225-hectare ecological reserve open for public use. More information on the plant can be found here.
The project includes a two-way underground transfer pipeline which connects the plant to Melbourne's water network through a delivery point at Berwick and transfer main to Cardinia Reservoir. Offtakes are included along the pipeline so that areas in South Gippsland and Western Port can access the water from the plant or Cardinia Reservoir if required. More information on the pipeline can be found here.
The project's 87-km dedicated underground power line is predominantly located within the pipeline easement. All operational energy is drawn through this power line and is 100% offset by renewable energy certificates. More information on the power line can be found here.
The project is a Public-Private Partnership with a capital cost of $3.5 billion. The project is a public-private partnership between the State Government and AquaSure, the company contracted to finance, design, build, operate and maintain the project for 30 years. The plant will be handed back to the State in working order at the end of AquaSure's contract in 2039. More information on project costs can be found here.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's Capital Projects Group manages the contract with AquaSure on behalf of the State. Many of the plant's key components have a 50 to 100 year life, and the plant will be handed back to the state in working order at the end of AquaSure's contract (in 2039).
The project met legislative requirements with numerous approvals obtained through state and federal governments. Ongoing environment management continues to be a key project focus. More information on the project's environmental management can be found here.