Construction starts on Melbourne desalination plant

Construction started on 6 October 2009 on the Melbourne Desalination Project in Australia, which will provide up to 150 million m³ of water each year to the city from the end of 2011.

Victoria's Water Minister Tim Holding inspected works at the plant site near Wonthaggi, said the project will secure water supplies for Melbourne, Geelong and towns in Western Port and South Gippsland.

"The start of construction on Australia's largest desalination plant is a vital step in delivering our water plan which includes the Sugarloaf Pipeline, the Aus$ 2 billion (US$ 1.78 billion) investment in irrigation upgrades and key regional water projects," he stated.

The AquaSure consortium, consisting of Suez Environnement, Degrémont, Thiess and Macquarie Capital Group, was awarded the tender for the project in July. This includes construction and operation of the desalination plant, an 84-km transfer pipeline, plus the construction of underground power and sourcing renewable energy.

Morwell-based company RTL has been awarded a Aus$ 10 million (US$ 8.9 million) contract to undertake the majority of earthworks on site.

Holding said works were being fast-tracked to ensure the project is completed on time. More works will begin soon including construction of the pipeline later this year and tunnelling for the intake and outlet pipes in mid-2010.

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