Scorched earth for water plant we might not need

An update on Sydney’s grand desalination plans (I told you to remember the name Blue Water Consortium). This is reporting of a fairly low calibre, however:

This is the first clear glimpse of the massive scale of the construction work for the state’s $1.76 billion water desalination plant at Kurnell.

Earth works to prepare the controversial site, south of Botany Bay, have been under way for several months.

smh kurnell pic

Scientists and environmental groups warn that creatures in the bay will be threatened if a proposed undersea pipeline gets final approval.

Construction and operation of the plant would threaten smaller creatures such as sponges, giant cuttlefish and weedy seadragons. The noise might force migrating whales further out to sea.

The article is a pretty-well-listed…list of affected wildlife. It’s also poorly-sourced or balanced, but then I’m sympathetically feral, myself, so I don’t mind.

A big problem that I have is that title; specifically the “…we might not need” part, which gets almost that little attention in the article itself:

Protest organisers say a desalination plant is not required, particularly now dam water levels have risen to close to 60 per cent capacity. They say work should stop.

Oh. Okay. In fact, the rain didn’t exacty top us up. The most recent count has dams at just shy of 60% capacity.

Sydney water supply

Not bad – but hardly cause to go out and wash our cars, right before Summer hits. For the moment, average daily supply is just on average daily demand (good enough):

Sydney water consumption

but that average is going to go through the roof, when Spring hits (bad). That wonderfull 11ml of rain we’re all in love with hardly bumped the water levels, anyway (allowing also for the time some of it may take to reach the dam, if indeed it fell in a catchment area).

And to think, I did all that with barely a few minutes and internet access (porn wasn’t even my opportunity cost, or anything. I was just sitting here!). Then there is the ongoing forecasting, most recently of the esteemed British Meteorological Office, predicting pretty much streaming hot and dry for places like Australia. Couple that with, say, the rate of growth of Sydney’s population.

My point, delivered with Trumanesque subtlety, is that no argument that a piece of rain, gratefully received, means that we can stop planning the water and energy infrastructure for a city of 4.2m (excluding visitors) should be taken the least bit seriously.

This is not to say I agree with salination, let me clear (since I’ve had this happen once, today, already). As I’ve mentioned previously: moving into desalination before trying any of the other, better, alternatives is some bastard child of lazy and lunatic. The fact that the construction only now appears harmful to wildlife should come as no surprise – nor should the fact that our newspapers will report upon it without the slightest tone of apology for not working this out before the bloody ground-breaking ceremony. I’m sure we can look forward to it all running over-time and over-budget, and delivering nothing like what was promised. Serves us right for sitting around while it happened.

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