Desal plant off the table as dam levels rise

A desalination plant at Port Stanvac in South Australia Photo: Wikicommons

Central Coast Council is on track to keep the region’s water supply secure, but a desalination plant at Lakes Beach, Budgewoi, is no longer on the table as a long-term option.

Council Director, Water and Sewer, Jamie Loader, confirmed a plant at that location was no longer under consideration as councillors considered a report at their last meeting on July 27 on major capital water security infrastructure and drought management procedures currently underway.

Loader said staff were looking at what works would need to be undertaken if Council were to proceed with a desalination plant.

“We are due to give an update on August 12 to the advisory committee and a councillor update a couple of days after that,” Loader said.

“Part of the consideration of a desalination plant is that we’re not intending to go ahead with that structure in that location at Lakes Beach, Budgewoi.”

Cr Doug Vincent asked for locations for the new structure that the desal group was looking at, but Loader was not spilling any more beans.

He said operating models were being looked at and that there would be extensive community consultation when the time came but that no money has been allocated for construction of a desalination plant as yet.

Councillors were told water reserves on the Coast were looking good, with storage 74 per cent (which had risen to 83.18 at August 10) at Mardi dam, 55.5 (57.06 at August 10) at Mangrove Creek and overflowing at Mooney.

Infrastructure works currently underway include: the Mardi to Warnervale Pipeline ($61M); the Mardi Water Treatment Plant Stage 3 Upgrade ($25M); the Mangrove Creek Dam Spillway Rectification ($7.1M); and the Mooney Dam Water Pump Station Upgrade ($4.4M).

Drought management projects currently underway include: a system wide leak detection program; the Woy Woy Ground Water Treatment Plant recommissioning; a Drought Response Desalination Readiness Assessment; and a Recycled Water Scheme Review and Refurbishment.

Mayor Lisa Matthews said water quality and security remain key priorities for Council.

“It’s important to meet both the needs of our immediate population and also plan for future growth by ensuring residents have access to high quality and safe drinking water,” Cr Matthews said.

“The Central Coast community are passionate about water conservation and have fully embraced Council’s Live to 150L campaign.

“Council is supporting their conservation efforts with a continued focus on good infrastructure, management plans and the introduction of restrictions.

“Together we continue to help reduce pressure on our water supply.”

Two new draft water policies are also currently on public exhibition.

Residents can have their say about both the Draft Drinking Water Quality Policy and Draft Recycled Water at Your Voice Our Coast.

Terry Collins and Merilyn Vale