THE first seawater flowed into the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant this morning, marking a major milestone in the $450 million expansion project.
Premier Colin Barnett and water minister Bill Marmion were on site to activate the flow of seawater into the facility.
The water will eventually be treated and delivered to the Integrated Water Supply Scheme as drinking water.
“Today we’ve taken another step closer to drought-proofing Perth,” Mr Barnett said.
“When the expanded plant is fully operational we will have the capacity to provide about half of Perth’s water needs via climate-independent desalination.”
But WA Labor leader Mark McGowan has called Premier Barnett’s celebration of the milestone “hypocritical”.
Mr McGowan said the Binningup Plant was planned and funded by his party.
“While in opposition Colin Barnett roundly criticised Labor’s plans for desalination,” he said.
“It is not worth contemplating what Perth would be like today had Labor not had the vision of building desalination plants and had listened to the naysayers led by Colin Barnett.”
The Liberal National Government made the decision in August 2011 to double the capacity of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant to 100 billion litres of drinking water a year.
Another 45 billion litres is available from Perth’s Seawater Desalination Plant.
“In Western Australia’s changing climate, the supply and security of desalination has proved invaluable,” Mr Marmion said.
“Without desalination, Perth would have been subject to severe sprinkler bans, as occurred on the east coast, and almost total reliance on groundwater sources.”
Delivery of four large water pumps to the expansion project from Germany is expected in the coming days, which will significantly improve the long-term efficiency of the plant.
The new pumps will be installed and then tested in March and the first drinking water will be delivered to the Integrated Water Supply Scheme shortly afterwards.