"Waste of money", says Mayor

Published 2:30pm 11 October 2023

"Waste of money", says Mayor
Words by Nick Crockford

Plans for a new desalination plant - possibly in the City of Moreton Bay - are a "waste of money" according to Mayor Peter Flannery.

Mayor Flannery is "appalled” the State Government “hasn’t bothered to engage local councils and communities” on plans for a new desalination plant.

And says: "Any new spend is a waste of money when we have a system in place and key infrastructure projects crying out for funding".

A second water desal plant will be needed in South-East Queensland by 2035, according to Seqwater’s Water Security Program, released by this week.

It is speculated the $8 billion plant would be north of Brisbane in the City of Moreton Bay or Sunshine Coast.

Fierce local resistance met suggestions, more than 15 years ago, Bribie Island would be a suitable location.

However, Mayor Flannery insists priority must be given to the recycled water scheme “already in place” not desalination.

“This desal distraction is not a well-thought plan and is ultimately delaying the conversation about recycled water with the community,” he says.

“I believe it (State Government) should fully utilise the system it has in place, which incorporates the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, gathering dust.

“The SEQ Water Grid was developed to connect the region’s dams, reservoirs and other storage systems, to allow water to be moved to meet needs, enabling the State Government to manage growth.

“It's 2023 and we’ve still got water insecurity in City of Moreton Bay that needs to be fixed.

“Instead of spending $8 billion on a desalination plant, the Premier should be funding infrastructure to support the SEQ Regional Plan.”

The Mayor says that would “support our communities in Dayboro and surrounds to get them on the water grid”.

"Waste of money", says Mayor
North Pine Dam, one of the City of Moreton Bay's major water storage facilities.

“It could solve the City of Moreton Bay’s east-west transport corridor issues that the rail line causes.

“You could replace all of our level crossings and still have money to spare. The additional money could be used to add more lanes over the Pine River.”

The Mayor says this state should follow London, Singapore and Los Angeles which use wastewater. Most Australian cities are “drinking some treated wastewater”, Mayor Flannery says.

“Is the government just too just lazy to educate people about the benefits of it?

“With cost-of-living pressures, this is yet another cost the Government will need to push on to mums and dads and now is just not the time.

“It’s history repeating itself. They’re just not planning ahead. It’s another stalling tactic wrapped up in yet another business case.”

The Water Security Program shows how Seqwater plans to provide safe, secure water through existing assets and planning climate-resilient supply options.

It includes connecting Wyaralong Dam (beyond Beaudesert) to the Grid and expanding the existing Gold Coast Desalination Plant.

“Maintaining a diversified, expanded mix of bulk water sources, inclusive of climate-independent sources, is key to addressing these challenges and safeguarding our most precious resource for generations to come," Seqwater CEO Neil Brennan said.

State Minister for Water Glenn Butcher added: “Seqwater is delivering water security for the region now and this updated Water Security Program outlines how it will continue to meet the demands of the south-east now and into the future."

Seqwater’s Action Plan says a detailed business case should be finished by the end of 2024, investigations into a new desalination plant by 2028 and the plant delivered by 2035, if the business case is supported.

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