EP desalination plant design changes informed by key stakeholders


EP desalination plant design changes informed by key stakeholders

SA Water is continuing to mature the design for its proposed desalination plant at Billy Lights Point, with key changes made in response to feedback gathered through early engagement and further scientific analysis, reinforcing the utility’s commitment to minimising any impacts to the coastal and marine environment.

SA Water is proposing to build a small-scale plant to provide long-term water security for the people of the Eyre Peninsula and ensure the ongoing health of the Uley South Basin, which provides the majority of the region’s drinking water.

The design changes include using a trenchless construction method for the installation of the plant’s intake and outfall pipes (where seawater will be drawn in and concentrated seawater will be dispersed), and the placement of these pipes in a deeper area off the coast of Billy Lights Point within a higher flushing zone.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Capital Delivery Peter Seltsikas said this work forms part of a comprehensive process with early contract involvement partner ACCIONA.

“We have listened to and responded to feedback from the Project Reference Group and other key community groups, our regulators and various other government agencies, which highlighted the importance of minimising disturbance to the Billy Lights Point coastline and avoiding the shallow waters of Proper Bay,” Peter said.

“We will need to conduct additional geotechnical studies to refine the scope of the trenchless construction method, and from early next month, we will use a barge and small drill rig off the coast of our existing nearby wastewater treatment plant to collect soil and rock samples from the ocean floor.

“This will enable a better understanding the site’s geology, to determine the exact type of construction method, which could include directional drilling or tunnelling.”

The geotechnical work is expected to take several weeks to complete and the results will help inform a detailed concept design which will be incorporated into our Development Application for the project, to be lodged with the State Commission Assessment Panel in early 2024.

“The Uley South Basin is the primary source of drinking water for Port Lincoln and the lower Eyre Peninsula, but the Basin is under stress, so a desalination plant is essential to augment supply,” Peter said.

“A combination of long-term lower groundwater recharging of the Basin and ongoing extraction rates to meet community demand mean the aquifer’s water levels are likely to reach historically low levels by the mid-2020s.

“We need to build the desalination plant at Billy Lights Point to protect the health of the Basin and provide an alternative climate-independent water source to deliver drinking water to the local community.”

To support next month’s geotechnical studies, SA Water will also be undertaking further hydrodynamic modelling within the preferred marine zone and a re-run of the particle tracking model, which will add to existing knowledge of mussel spat movement and narrow down the exact alignment and location of the intake and outfall pipes.

“We are planning to place the pipes in a zone to the east of Billy Lights Point, up to 1.5 kilometres offshore and more than 2.5 kilometres from existing mussel leases,” Peter said.

“This location is near a commercial shipping corridor which extends from the marina to Cape Donnington and is within water around 10 to 15 metres deep.

“The outfall for our Port Lincoln Wastewater Treatment Plant sits outside of this zone further to the south, and our extensive monitoring to date has demonstrated no negative impact to the local marine environment from this marine infrastructure.”

For up-to-date information on SA Water’s Eyre Peninsula desalination project, people can also visit watertalks.sawater.com.au/getthefacts, or in-person at the utility’s Project Information Centre on Liverpool Street in Port Lincoln.





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For all other SA Water-related enquiries, please call our Customer Care Centre on 1300 SA WATER (1300 729 283).

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