Australian govt conditionally approves Melbourne desalination plant

The seawater desalination plant which will supply up to 150 million m³/year of drinking water for Melbourne was given conditional approval by Australia's environment minister Peter Garrett on 20 March 2009.

Under the national environment law, the minister was required to assess potential impacts on the Western Port Ramsar wetland of the Victoria state government's proposed plant near Wonthaggi, including threatened species and protected ecological communities.

"I am fully satisfied that with the conditions I have imposed on this approval - including a requirement that the Victorian Government develop management strategies to minimise the impacts on species like the Growling Grass Frog, Dwarf Galaxias, Giant Gippsland Earthworm and Orange-bellied Parrot - this project will not have a significant impact on nationally protected matters," Garrett said.

"I will need to approve these strategies before construction can commence on the project. My conditional approval strengthens the recommendations of the Victorian assessment."

As part of a forward approach for managing Australia's urban water resources, the Australian Government is implementing a Aus$1 billion (US$ 700 million) National Urban Water & Desalination Plan to help secure the water supplies of Australia's major cities.

Information on this approval and its conditions can be found at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/notices/index.html.

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