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Seawater Desalination

South Australia currently has at least four operating seawater desalination plants, with several more at various stages of the planning process. As of 2014, most proposed plants are intended to provide water for a variety of mining and industrial developments. Members of the Marine Life Society of South Australia have expressed concerns about the possible cumulative impacts of multiple desalination plants sited in Gulf systems, and potential for local impacts in the vicinity of brine discharges and seawater intake mechanisms. We believe a strong case exists for the establishment of a Statewide Desalination Plan, which carefully considers the suitability (or otherwise) of Gulf waters for desalination plants. We believe it should also carefully consider the possibility of environmental harm through brine discharges’ potential to increase localised salinity, cause brine pooling during dodge tides (regular periods of nominal tidal movement) and subsequently create deoxygenated zones.

PROJECT PURPOSE LOCATION OPERATOR(S) CAPACITY (ML/day) STATUS
Adelaide Desalination Project Domestic supply Port Stanvac, Gulf St. Vincent SA Water & AdelaideAqua 300 Operating
Penneshaw Domestic supply Kangaroo Head, Kangaroo Island SA Water 0.3 Operating
Whyalla Steelworks Industrial Whyalla, Upper Spencer Gulf Arrium Ltd 4 Operating
Marion Bay Domestic supply Marion Bay, Yorke Peninsula Yorke Peninsula Council 0.06 Operating
Olympic Dam Expansion Mining Point Lowly, Upper Spencer Gulf BHP Billiton 280 Approved 2011, construction deferred
Port Spencer Mining Lipson Cove, Lower Eyre Peninsula Centrex Metals Ltd 14-55 Proposed 2012
Ceduna Domestic supply Ceduna, Great Australian Bight F-Cubed 0.55* Proposed 2012
Sundrop Farms Seawater greenhouse Port Augusta, Upper Spencer Gulf Sundrop Farms 8** Proposed 2014

*The proposed Ceduna plant if constructed will not return brine to the sea. It will produce a variety of mineral salts as byproducts for other commercial applications.

**Sundrop Farms’ existing pilot seawater greenhouse does not discharge brine to Spencer Gulf. The proposed expansion (approved in 2014) will use a solar distillation desalination process, and will return 2.7 Gigalitres of brine at 60 parts per thousand salinity into the gulf via Alinta Northern Power Station channel.

1 Comment

  1. Steve Reynolds
    August 16, 2014

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    It’s great having all of these details combined together in one place.

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