Australian authority moves to secure desalination future

Gosford City & Wyong Shire Councils' Water Authority in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, is working with the two councils for approval of initial site works for the proposed Toukley Desalination Plant.

Work needs to start soon to protect the development approval granted by the NSW state government in 2007 and ensure the Central Coast water supply can be quickly secured if chronic drought strikes again.

The Central Coast Water Plan 2050, approved in 2007, also envisages investigations into the use of highly treated recycled wastewater as a possible future water source.

Wyong Mayor, Doug Eaton, stressed the councils have a responsibility to ensure the plant's approval does not lapse so it can be constructed quickly if our water security is challenged again.

"A desalination plant is a long term option for the Central Coast and we need to make sure it can be implemented swiftly if the need arises in the future," he said. "The preparation works will be on the proposed site of the desalination plant - adjacent to the Toukley Sewage Treatment Plant. They will include drainage and earthworks, upgrades to site fencing and signage and installing long-term erosion and sedimentation controls."

Construction of the plant was put on hold after the easing of the drought in mid-2007 and commissioning of alternate water sources such as the Hunter Connection. Gosford City Council Mayor Laurie Maher said desalinated seawater remained one of the most feasible sources of additional water if the region experienced prolonged below-average rainfall in the future.

"We've always maintained permanent desalination may need to be used in the future to battle drought conditions or to meet significant increases in demand for town water," said Maher. "I'm confident that safeguarding the plant's approval will position the region to rapidly provide a more flexible and reliable water supply if required."

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