The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SEQ water grid - Corrosion hits desal plant ...

Corrosion hits Tugun desalination plant

19 April 2009

Just two months after the taps were finally turned on, the State Government's $1.2 billion desalination plant will be shut down for five weeks for repairs.

The plant at Tugun on the Gold Coast has been besieged with problems, and is still months away from being officially handed over to Water Secure - the government body that will own and run it.

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe confirmed the plant will shut down from late this month for "scheduled repair work", and dismissed claims it is an expensive white elephant.

"The planned shutdown in late April will go ahead, to carry out work such as the replacement of corroded couplings," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"There is also other ongoing work as previously announced, including the progressive replacement of water valves by the supplier.

"Water Secure will not take delivery of the plant until all these issues are fixed. This is about protecting taxpayers' dollars - now and in the future."

The plant was supposed to be pumping 125 megalitres a day of water into the southeast Queensland water grid by January 15, but that did not happen until March 9.

Premier Anna Bligh was featured on the cover of a national engineering magazine this year, supposedly tasting water from the opened plant last November. Water did not enter the drinking system until three months later.

Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson yesterday was forced to defend claims the plant had "mysteriously" stopped pumping last week as dam levels neared 60 per cent.

He said the halt on Thursday was for "just scheduled maintenance".

"There is no drama here, nothing significant here," he said, noting it was back at 33 per cent capacity yesterday.

"Desalinated water costs more than water that comes from the sky and into our dams," Mr Robertson said.

"To run the desalination plant more than you need to would result in an increase in the price of water, which is not in the public interest."

He said it would run closer to full capacity as the high Hinze Dam level dropped.

Water is being let out of the Hinze, and into the water grid, so work can begin on raising the dam wall.

LNP Leader John-Paul Langbroek said the Government had serious questions to answer about how the water grid was being run.

"It beggars belief that we can spend so much and get so little for it ... it just does not stack up," he said.

Despite the ongoing problems, Mr Hinchliffe said the project had been a success, supplying more than three billion litres of water to the southeast grid since late February.

"This is the largest desalination plant built on the east coast of Australia, so some teething pains are to be expected," he said.


See - Sunday Mail - Desal plant shelved.

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