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.
Operating plants and live proposals
|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|
|Sundrop Farms||Seawater greenhouse||Port Augusta, Upper Spencer Gulf||Sundrop Farms||8**||Operating|
|Cultana Pumped Hydro Project||Hydroelectric power generation||Port Augusta, Upper Spencer Gulf||Energy Australia||7||Proposed 2019|
Projects abandoned prior to construction
|Olympic Dam Expansion||Mining||Point Lowly, Upper Spencer Gulf||BHP Billiton||280||Approved 2011. Abandoned after approval.|
|Port Spencer||Mining||Lipson Cove, Lower Eyre Peninsula||Centrex Metals Ltd||14-55||Proposed 2012. Abandoned at concept.|
|Ceduna||Domestic supply||Ceduna, Great Australian Bight||F-Cubed||0.55*||Proposed 2012 (status unknown)|
*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’ original pilot seawater greenhouse did not discharge brine to Spencer Gulf. The business’ expansion (approved in 2014) now uses a solar distillation desalination process, and has proposed to return 2.7 Gigalitres of brine at 60 parts per thousand salinity into the gulf via Alinta Northern Power Station channel at time of its approval.
- 1 October 2017: Updated statuses of Olympic Dam, Port Spencer, Sundrop Farms and Ceduna plants.
- 12 November 2019: Added Cultana pumped hydro project and separated single list into two.