Adelaide desalination plant to be put in ‘standby mode’

South Australia Water is planning to place its US$ 1.9 billion Adelaide desalination plant in ‘standby mode’ and use its lower-cost water sources first to keep costs down for its customers,

SA Water chief executive John Ringham said on 4 October 2012, “Improved inflows into the River Murray and Mount Lofty catchments have put us in a position where we can utilise these sources first and we are anticipating the desalination plant may not need to be operated in the upcoming regulatory period after the completion of its 24‑month warranty. This will be subject to ongoing reviews and is a decision we will make only if natural inflows into the River Murray and our catchments are at levels that can support demand.”

“The Adelaide Desalination Plant is South Australia’s insurance policy against future droughts and provides a flexible, climate independent water source, so we will continue to maintain it to a level where it can be switched on when we need it,” Ringham added.

The plant, which initially was to provide 50 million m³/year, was upgraded to 100 million m³/y shortly after work started in 2008. It produced half of this capacity in March 2012.

Acciona-led consortium AdelaideAqua has promised completion of full capacity by the end of December 2012.