Desalination

Again. The latest on Sydney’s foolhardy moves to extract sufficient fresh water from the ocean (original cost: AUD750m):

The cost of the unpopular Kurnell desalination plant has been revised to $1.9 billion after an increase in the cost of the pipeline that will connect the plant to the city’s water main.

The pipeline cost has been finalised at $650 million, much higher than anticipated due to extremely poor ground conditions at the former Tempe tip site, along Alexandria Canal and also at Sydney Park, which have resulted in the line needing concrete supports to hold it in place even though it is to be laid underground.

“The soil is soft with a lot of water in it,” the head of Sydney Water, Kerry Schott, a former senior NSW Treasury official, said.

The irony of which is, apparently, lost on the government. The criminally-negligent stupidity of not checking up on such a thing, first, is also, apparently, lost on the government (but, then, what is a government for?).

This hit my interest, today, because California has decided that it’s similarities with my fair isles are not yet extensive enough.

Water-short California’s search to satisfy its thirst is beginning to focus on a controversial source — the Pacific Ocean.

In November, Connecticut-based Poseidon Resources Corp. won a key regulatory approval to build a $300 million water-desalination plant in Carlsbad, north of San Diego. The facility would be the largest in the Western Hemisphere, producing 50 million gallons of drinking water a day, enough to supply about 100,000 homes.

The project has attracted big financial partners. In May, General Electric Co. said it had invested in it and would provide filtration technology. In September, Citigroup Inc.’s sustainable-development-investments unit became the lead investor in closely held Poseidon, formed in 1995 by former GE executives and private-equity firm Warburg Pincus. Andrew de Pass, the Citigroup unit’s managing director, says the need for long-term water sources drove the investment. He declined to specify how much Citigroup invested.

Here’s a prediction: this will not be ready in time, it will cost way more than promised (including a lot more money from the pockets of tax-payers, particularly once the private water is being pumped into households at far higher prices per unit than originally promised), it will use far more energy than predicted – it will basically do everything worse than promised.

We make a big deal out of how desalination is used all over – particularly, though, in the Middle East. I.e., where things like cost is far less of a concern in the first place and, moreover, where there is usually only desert and ocean in the first place. It simply isn’t a technology that ought to be replicated on any sort of practicable scale, yet, on our shores.

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