desal-plantA STORY which appeared in the Sentinel-Times last week, highlighting concerns about possible delays to a start-up for the Wonthaggi desalination plant, was featured on John Faine’s 774ABC program today.

Forwarded to the ‘Sentinel’ by National’s Leader Peter Walsh, the Shadow Minister for Water, the article was based on a report to 3AW’s Neil Mitchell last week.

It was stated that a major cabling problem at the desalination plant means it may not be able to produce water for 12 to 18 months even if needed.

But the Water Minister, Lisa Neville has since denied those claims.

She has however confirmed that “maintenance” work along these lines is being carried out at the moment, but could be discontinued if the $6 billion plant needed to be brought on line.

Melbourne’s water storage levels are presently at 64 per cent of capacity but with a hot week of weather ahead, could drop considerably lower.

The desal plant costs Victorian households $1.8 million per day to keep it on stand-by, which will come to a total cost of around $18 billion over 27 years.

It costs a lot more if it goes into production.

The Herald-Sun reported earlier this week that the Premier Daniel Andrews said the Government would order water if it received independent advice that this was needed.

The Government would be able to place an order for next financial year of between 50 and 150GL, up until April 1.

A minimum order would drive up Melbourne household bills by about $12, if the Government decided to slug Melbourne Water customers only.

However, it would be up to the Andrews Government to decide how to spread out the extra $27 million the plant would cost to run once a minimum order of water is placed.

Melbourne water users already pay a total of more than $600 million a year for the plant to sit idle.

More jobs

The Water Minister Lisa Neville has been asked by the Sentinel-Times if a start to production at Wonthaggi’s desal plant would mean more local jobs.

The Minister is yet to respond.