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The Alkimos Seawater Desalination Plant (ASDP) has received environmental approval from state and federal regulators, bringing delivery of Perth’s next major water source a step closer.

The Commonwealth Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has approved the 100 billion-litre-a-year plant that is set to secure drinking water for millions of Western Australians.

It follows assessment by the Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority and subsequent conditions approved by Western Australia Environment Minister, Reece Whitby, in August 2023.

The ministerial conditions stipulate how Water Corporation will deliver and operate the plant and associated infrastructure, with appropriate management of terrestrial and marine environments.

The conditions include ensuring net zero scope one and two greenhouse gas emissions during construction and operation through measures such as procuring renewable energy to meet the plant’s total annual energy needs. 

The project was granted development approval in October 2023 by an independent Development Assessment Panel, paving the way for initial site works to begin in late 2023.

Announced in June 2022, the ASDP is vital to the long-term water security of more than 2.5 million Western Australians who receive drinking water through Water Corporation’s Integrated Water Supply Scheme.

It will be delivered in two 50 billion-litre-a-year stages, with water expected to be available by 2028.

The plant has been carefully designed to protect the surrounding environment. It will be situated behind large, vegetated sand dunes to shield it from view and to buffer noise, while a special tunnel boring technique will limit seabed and beach disturbance during construction.

The Western Australia Government has currently allocated $2.1 billion towards the project in consecutive state budgets.

Western Australia Water Minister, Simone McGurk, said, “This is a significant milestone for a project that is crucial to the long-term water security of more than 2.5 million Western Australians.

“It’s no secret that climate change has had a profound impact on traditional water sources, meaning we simply cannot rely on rainfall alone to meet our drinking water needs.

“Western Australia was the first state to introduce large-scale desalination, and alongside Water Corporation, our government continues to be at the forefront of delivering projects that provide secure, sustainable and climate-resilient water supply.” 

Western Australia Environment Minister, Reece Whitby, said, “Water security in the face of climate change is a growing challenge globally. However, through prudent investment and robust planning we’re ensuring the sustainability of our state’s most valuable resource now and long into the future.

“I’m confident Water Corporation will deliver the Alkimos Seawater Desalination Plant safely and sustainably, with minimal disturbance and in line with all environmental conditions.

“These conditions include ensuring the plant has net-zero greenhouse gas emissions during construction and operations as part of wider efforts to decarbonise Western Australia’s electricity grid.”

Assistant Editor, Utility magazine

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