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The Western Australia State Government has announced it will provide $2.8 billion to secure the Alkimos Seawater Desalination Plant, Perth’s next major source of drinking water.

Site works have now begun at the location for the future 100-billion-litre seawater desalination plant, heralding a significant milestone in its delivery.

The new plant, supported using the state budget surplus, is set to be the third of its kind in Western Australia, and will be adjacent to an existing wastewater treatment plant on land that is to become known as the Alkimos Water Precinct.

Georgiou Group has been awarded a $29.8 million contract to prepare the site for construction, with early works to include sinking of the site into the landscape and extending a large, vegetated sand dune to shield the plant from view and create a noise buffer.

The entire contract value will be spent locally, with almost $13 million directed to Western Australia subcontractors and 14 per cent spent with Aboriginal businesses.

Around 70 local jobs will be created, including opportunities for apprentices and trainees.

Announced last year, the Alkimos Seawater Desalination Plant will support long-term water security for more than 2.5 million Western Australians who receive drinking water through the Integrated Water Supply Scheme.

The plant will have net zero greenhouse gas emissions during construction and operation, and will allow Water Corporation to reduce its groundwater allocation by 30 billion litres a year – helping to preserve healthy wetlands, parks, forests and public open spaces in Perth’s north.   

The project has received environmental approval from state and federal regulators, as well as from an independent development assessment panel.

A contract to design, construct, and operate the plant will be awarded in early 2024, with the first 50-billion-litre stage scheduled for completion in 2028.

Western Australia Premier, Roger Cook, 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.

“Western Australia was the first state to introduce large-scale desalination and continues to be a world leader in the delivery of climate-resilient water sources.

“The Alkimos Seawater Desalination Plant will help to secure long-term drinking water, support our economy, reduce dependence on groundwater, and meet the needs of our state’s growing population.

“My government’s $2.8 billion investment can be made thanks to our responsible budget management, which will help to secure not only Perth’s water supply but the future of those who will call our state home for many years to come.”

Western Australia Treasurer, Rita Saffioti, said, “Our strong financial management and the surpluses we’re delivering have meant we’ve been able to support this desalination plant, which will be the third of its kind in Western Australia.  

“This is an important project for our government and crucial for the long-term water security of Western Australians, reflecting the government’s $2.8 billion commitment toward this priority project.”

Western Australia Minister for Water, Simone McGurk, said, “Over the coming months, the site of Perth’s next major water source will begin to take shape, marking the early stages of this significant project for our growing city.

“We’re feeling the effects of climate change right now – it doesn’t rain in Perth like it once did.

“Where we used to receive an average 420 billion litres of rainfall into Perth dams annually, today it is less than 70 billion litres.

“Unlike other global cities that are facing significant water supply challenges, Perth has acted to ensure our water supply network is more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

“This project has been carefully designed to integrate into the surrounding landscape and, importantly, will have net zero greenhouse gas emissions during construction and throughout operation.”

Western Australia Member for Butler, John Quigley, said, “This is a huge project for Alkimos and Perth’s north, with site works alone set to create around 70 local jobs and benefit local businesses.

“It is a forward-thinking and innovative project that has been carefully designed with the protection of the surrounding environment and local community expectations in mind.” 

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