Sydney desalination plant cuts production to 45,000 m³/d

Australia’s Sydney Water announced on 29 February 2012 that it was cutting back production at the 250,000 m³/d Sydney desalination plant from the already reduced rate of 90,000 m³/d to 45,000 m³/d, the minimum amount to keep the plant running.

This follows heavy rainfall and rising dam levels.

The plant has to be kept in operation under the contractual two-year proving period, which ends in June 2012.

The New South Wales (NSW) state government’s 2010 Metropolitan Water Plan outlines the operating rules for the plant and states that if dam levels reach 80% after the two-year proving period (1 July 2012), the desalination plant will be turned off and switched on again when the levels fall below 70%.

NSW minister for finance and services, Greg Pearce, said the decision by the plant to reduce the volume of water supplied at the plant was a common sense approach following heavy rainfall in recent days.

“Fortunately, when dam levels reached 80% last December,” said Pearce, “Sydney Water, the Sydney desalination plant and Veolia were able to negotiate a change to the supply of water from the plant, reducing it from 250,000 m³/d to 90,000 m³/d.

“Shutting it down entirely would potentially shift any liability for any defects under its construction to the state government, and ultimately taxpayers for the duration of its concession period,” said the minister.