CONSTRUCTION of an $80-million desalination plant at Sleaford Bay is likely to begin in 18 months to two years.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs announced the plans on his visit to the Port Lincoln on Tuesday.
SA Water finalised the purchase of about 60 hectares of land near Sleaford Bay in July this year.
The proposed plant will be set back some one to two kilometres from the bay, with the in-flow and out-flow pipes to be buried beneath the sea bed and extend hundreds of metres out.
Member for Flinders Peter Treloar said he was pleased with the announcement as it was something the region had been waiting for “for a lot of years”.
“The plan is to begin public consultation on a two to three gigalitre desalination plant to supplement Eyre Peninsula’s water supply.”
Mr Treloar said the desalination plant would also improve the quality of reticulated water supply.
In 2002, the then Labor government promised the member for Flinders that it would build a desalination plant to supply the Eyre Peninsula with water.
“That never eventuated and there have been changes in the Eyre Penisnula’s water resources since.
“There’s no extraction from Polda Basin… and we’re relying now on water from the Uley South Basin and about 1.5 gigalitres coming from the Murray,” he said.
“This will supplement the region’s water supply and help protect the Uley South Basin.”
State MP David Speirs said a desalination plant for Eyre Peninsula had been “in the mix” for about 20 years.
“There are significant concerns on the area’s reliance on ground water, and that it may not be sustainable in the longer term,” he said.
“Although there’s no immediate risk, in the interest of being proactive and getting correct plans in place we are securing this land to make sure we don’t get to a situation in the future where there are problems with the area’s water supply.”
Mr Speirs said the appropriate environmental planning and mitigation measures would be taken, and local residents would be able to have their say on the proposed plant.
“The community will have an opportunity to have their say, there will be a substantial engagement program and we’ll be rolling that out in the coming months,” Mr Speirs said.