Sleaford Bay seawater desalination plant talks

Local residents were ‘overwhelmingly supportive’ of the proposed $80-million Sleaford Bay seawater desalination plant, according to SA Water general manager of communications Anna Jackson.

SA Water held public drop-in sessions at the Port Lincoln Nautilus Centre earlier this week as an opportunity for the community to learn about the project, have their say and provide feedback on the multi-million dollar project.

Port Lincoln resident Diana Smith said she had not made a decision yet and wanted to learn more about the project before doing so.

“It was good to get background on what the future holds for Port Lincoln,” she said.

“I haven’t yet decided… but I’m at the stage to make an informed decision.”

Ms Smith said the plant could secure water resources, help create new businesses and cater for an increased population, something she said the area needed moving forward.

“Salinity was a possible concern that I knew about initially,” she said.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs announced the project on his visit to Port Lincoln in early August with construction likely to begin in 18 months to two years.

SA Water finalised the purchase of about 60 hectares of land near Sleaford Bay in July this year. 

SA Water general manager of communications and engagement Anna Jackson said about 50 people from the community had attended the drop-in sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

“Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly supportive of a new sea water desalination plant to secure future water supply,” she said.

“People are also keen to learn more about the way sea water desalination plants interface with the marine environment, because protecting the environment and minimising impact is important to them.”

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.

Ms Jackson said the drop-in sessions aimed to also share SA Water’s experience in operating sea water desalination plants.

“...independent reviews have concluded the facility [Lonsdale desalination plant] has caused no harm to the marine environment,” she said.

SA Water will be holding drop-in sessions in Cowell on November 26, Wudinna on November 27 and Ceduna on November 28 for further feedback from Eyre Peninsula residents.