Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sydney Desalination plant dumped (at least until after the election): "Cabinet met yesterday and was presented with the initial results of drilling in western Sydney, which revealed there might be up to 30 gigalitres a year of groundwater in aquifers. That would nearly match the 45 gigalitres a year that might have been produced by the Kurnell desalination plant.

"The groundwater has been known about for several years, but the scale of the reserves was untested. The most recent testing provides the Government with the political figleaf to put the plant on hold for several years. The reserves are large enough to provide additional water for several years."

"The Government is still likely to buy the Kurnell land and build a pilot plant, but a full-scale plant will not be built unless needed. The new trigger is likely to be when the dam system falls to 30 per cent full.... The plant has faced universal opposition from the environmental movement because of the massive power consumption needed to run it. The Government's estimates recognised the plant would add 2 per cent to Sydney's power consumption."

"The change of heart follows a report from two experts, Dr Stuart White and David Campbell, to the water subcommittee of cabinet. As well as the aquifer water, they identified recycling opportunities of up to 70 gigalitres a year. The newly discovered aquifers are in the Southern Highlands and western Sydney, near the Hawkesbury River."

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