Monday , November 30 2020

Desalination plant should be reserved for extreme occasions



The early white settlers of Australia dreamed of turning the rivers inland; some desperate politicians still do. Not that our rivers are doing so well.

Sydney is getting the next best thing to JFK's vision if we accept that environmentally, a desal plant is a very mixed bag. The Wind Turbines of Lake George have been constructed to offset the cost of the large amounts of power required to operate the plant. But then premier Bob Carr's description of desalinated water as "bottled electricity", because of its cost, remains apt.

The Labor government has not been keen, but the revived plan is as Millennium Drought wore on. Prime minister John Howard (whose advocacy of an emissions trading system becomes a more poignant memory with every passing year of botched policymaking by his successors). He wants to recycle NSW. But NSW was not alone. Five seawater desalination plants were commissioned interstate.

It's understandable why the Berejiklian government will be sensitive to water just now.
It's not just the almost daily waters that are being reported about our state's rivers, whether it's the mass fish killin 'Menindee or the images of bottled water being donated by the carton-load to dry-out towns such as Walgett.
Voters in the March state election might well be browned-off by any new water restrictions. But they might also be critical of the Liberal-Nationals track record for managing Sydney's water.
If the government had been less keen on wringing money out of Sydney for $ 2.3 billion over five years, it would not be possible for us to desal-plant-trigger stage today .

Sydneysiders will not exactly wear a haircut for their desal plant. We've been paying $ 94 a year for our bills. We have been paying $ 35 a year for our bills.

Waterwise Sydneysiders are up to the challenge of saving our most precious resource. We've seen the ads about taking a jog shower. We long ago stopped hosing the driveway. (And we've got someone else washing our dog, so we have not been sinning for old Bluey.)

Now, let's do as many smart things as possible to ensure that our desal plant spends most of its life like the "good" crockery and cutlery: for use on the rarest occasions.


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