The proposed desalination plant of Kurnell, Botany Bay

Essay by iceemelonHigh School, 10th gradeA+, May 2006

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There has been large debate within the community of Sutherland Shire Council concerning the proposed desalination plant at Kurnell. The government has announced that this plant will be built to solve Sydney's current water crisis, however this comes at a heavy price. The $2 billion project will not only cost the government but it will also raise the water bill for Sydney households. There are many arguments both for and against this proposed plant and it simply comes down to the question "which one is more important?" The desalination plant uses a process called reverse osmosis. Sea water is pushed through a fine mesh to filter out the salt resulting in fresh water. It is estimated that the plant will convert 500 megalitres of drinkable water each day during a drought which will supply water for 1.4 million people (a third of Sydney's population). This will assure that during drought season, Sydney's water supply will not be undermined.

The desalination plant will also be in use in non-drought periods, producing 125 million litres of water per day. However this mass desalination of water involves many negative consequences. It is argued that this desalination plant is environmentally and financially unsound. A plant as large as this would require 900 gig watt hours of electricity each year. This would result in a significantly higher output of carbon dioxide emissions which are a main contributor to global warming which in turn is contributing to the water crisis. The energy used in this plant is equivalent to the energy use of 120,000 households. The plant would also produce concentrated salt residue and hot brine which will be dumped into the ocean damaging the marine habitats. Marine life will also be at risk of being sucked into the massive pipes with approximately 78,000 fish and...