Victoria’s peak environment group today raised concerns about the Brumby Government’s long-term water strategy for Melbourne following today’s announcement of the desalination plant proponents.
Environment Victoria’s campaigns director Mark Wakeham warned that viewing the desal plant as a means of easing “tough water restrictions” was effectively giving the green light to inefficient water use and was sending the wrong message to Melburnians while dams are at historic low levels.
Mr Wakeham also highlighted that in a time of climate change Victoria should be pursuing more decentralized and less energy intensive water sources.
“The desal plant and pipeline project remove incentives to implement longer term, sustainable options such as locking in water efficiency into our buildings and utilising important resources like stormwater and recycled water,” he said.
“Melburnians have already shown their commitment to a more sustainable future through their water saving efforts over recent years. We need to build on this investment, not promote a return to the water-wasting ways of the past.”
Mark Wakeham said after today’s announcement it was also still unclear how the plant’s huge energy use would be offset.
“We need to see the detail about how the renewable energy offset for the deal plant will work,” he said.
“While the Premier announced that AquaSure has committed to the construction of the 63 MW Oaklands wind farm, the plant’s energy use would actually require the construction of 270 MW of wind power, more than 4 times the size of the Oaklands wind farm.
“Renewable energy to power the desal plant needs to be additional to all existing renewable energy targets and programs, otherwise the desal plant will be double-dipping and won’t effectively be offset by renewable energy.
“We’ll continue to monitor the commitment to offset the desal plant with renewable energy until we’re confident that the commitment is rock-solid.”
Environment Victoria released a report late last year, Water Security, Healthy Rivers: Environment Victoria’s Vision for Melbourne, that showed we could secure Melbourne’s water supply needs and save our rivers by improving water efficiency and accelerating rainwater harvesting and water recycling.
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