Minister agrees Melbourne inquiry recommendations

The Aus$ 3.1 billion (US$2.2 billion) seawater desalination plant for Melbourne, Australia, passed a significant hurdle on 9 January 2009 when Victoria state’s planning minister, Justin Madden, accepted all but one of the 42 recommendations of an independent inquiry into the project.

Madden also released the inquiry’s report, which included the following recommendations:

  • An independent reviewer and auditor be appointed to ensure compliance with environmental performance requirements;
  • Measures to be implemented to ensure the conservation of flora and fauna and sensitive marine areas and maintenance of flood dependent ecosystems;
  • The need to minimise impacts on agricultural productivity, and areas of landscape significance;
  • The management of the social impacts of construction of the desalination plant on the local area;
  • The need for the state Department of Sustainability & Environment to work closely with the various councils and authorities during the construction of the desalination plant to minimise disruption.
  • Two consortia led by Degremont and Veolia are shortlisted for the project which will will produce 150-200 million m³/y. Preliminary construction work is already under way and the successful contractor will be chosen later in 2009 with the first water from the plant due to be supplied at the end of 2011.

    The relevant documents can be found on the Victoria government’s website.