333555-wonthaggi-desalination-plantWith the imminent and much heralded grand opening of the Victorian desalination project ecological reserve, I feel it is time to reflect upon what Aquasure’s ‘community gift’ really symbolises.
Whilst it is laudable that the community has a system of tracks and wetlands to use, it is not really a gift.
The cost of this largesse is being borne by Victorian water users – paid for by the $1.8 million which fattens the wallet of an overseas-based water baron each and every day.
A few million dollars spent on trees is merely a drop in the bucket.
The sculpted dunes hide a dark secret – thousands of tonnes of acid sulphate soil which will hopefully not leach sulphuric acid into the Powlett River estuary over the coming decades.
The road leading to the plant will have to be maintained by Bass Coast Shire Council, mainly for the benefit of the corporation – another cost to ratepayers.
If you decide to take a tour of this new ‘verdant wonderland’ next Sunday, please take a moment to think about the ‘not-so-ecological reserve’ located just offshore from the site. We still don’t know – despite years of asking for comprehensive answers – what chemical compounds will be released into our coastal waters, and what the impact of siphoning tonnes of marine life every day the plant is operating, will be. This marine life is destined to be unceremoniously dumped at the Lyndhurst tip, rather than supporting the food chain of the Bunurong Marine Park, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Victoria’s marine park system. It is of very small comfort that we have been assured that there will be “no impacts to beneficial uses”.
Will Aquasure commit to the proper maintenance of the park in coming decades, or will our community also bear the cost of avoiding this ‘gift’ becoming a weed and vermin ridden fire hazard?
It is way past time for Aquasure to be open and honest about the real environmental and financial costs of their business, rather than continuing to hide behind a veneer of feel-good greenwash.
We look forward to their response.
Mark Robertson, president, Watershed Victoria.