Desalination... a last resort

The process of desalination requires pre-treatment and cleaning chemicals, which are added to water before desalination to make the treatment more efficient and successful. These chemicals include chlorine, hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide, and they can be used for only a limited amount of time. Once they’ve lost their ability to clean the water, these chemicals are dumped, which becomes a major environmental concern. These chemicals often find their way back into the ocean, where they poison plant and animal life, yet Central Coast Council still believe Coasties should accept their desalination plans.

21 January 2022



FOLLOWING intervention by certain community activists and the Grapevine into Central Coast Council’s Water Security Plan last October, the absurd timeline for an early build of the $230 Million plus Desal Plant has been revised. Council, when confronted about constructing the ocean inlet pipe at Norah Head within the next 5 years, have backed away in the face of public exposure.


The Council’s unhealthy push for desalination fits in with the NSW Government earmarking the Central Coast as part of a proposed Mega City stretching from Wollongong in the south to Newcastle in the north. Now to be known as the Central Region, the new draft Central Coast Regional Plan 2041 and subsequent 2036 plan stealthily and discreetly propose changes to many aspects to Coasties way of life and simply caters to the needs of greedy developers, with very little input or possible input by the ratepayers and general Central Coast community.


“Democracy has been removed by a state government who dismissed our elected councillors, whether you voted for them or not and put in place a plethora of politically appointed bureaucrats  to make decisions on the future of the Central Coast,” said long term community campaigner Gary Blaschke OAM.


“The general community has effectively been taken out of the planning process having no ability to set our own destiny with the dismissal of our elected councillors, a politically appointed Administrator and both Local and Regional Planning Panels making all the decisions for the ratepayer’s future.


“Proposed desalination plants at Norah Head and possibly Budgewoi will have devastating impacts on our marine ecosystems, simply to cater for the Governments dream of dumping their unwanted developments onto the Central Coast. Nothing could be more apparent when reading the new draft plan with plenty of feel good motherhood statements and wish lists that will never come to fruition.” Said Mr. Blaschke.


The Sydney Desalination Plant, which is privately run and has procured international investment, costs Sydneysiders $170 Million a year to run whether it produces water or not. Since its costly construction in 2012 it was not needed to supplement water supplies for the first 5 years. It was also damaged by a weather event and was out of action again for a number of years before it was operational.


What Central Coast Council has not told ratepayers is that a desalination plant has to be run even it is returning the treated water back to the source and not supplementing the water supply. This is the scenario for Sydney, where ratepayers are forking out additional water rates to cover running costs and permanent investment returns to the share portfolio.


The insalubrious rush by our administered Council to move forward on desalination, without the checks and balances of elected Councillors, needs to be thoroughly scrutinised to determine whether the construction of a desalination plant is viable and warranted. Wyong Shire Council previously dumped a similar proposal because of construction and running costs and the harmful impact it posed to the environment.


A desalination plant, as put forward by Council, would incur an running fee of around $20 million plus, over and above the construction costs of $230 Million at today’s prices. Hardly a cost cutting measure when the Council Administrator is telling the community they need to sell assets and cut services to dig themselves out of a financial hole.


When dam levels dropped to almost 10% in 2007 Coasties still survived. Nobody was poisoned by contamination. The wider community also learned the value of water from our natural catchments and have since been lauded by authorities for using less water per person than 20 years ago. Yet Council now says that if the dam level falls to 45% then that will trigger the construction of a Desalination Plant. How about something more like 35%?


In 2010 Council spent $120 Million on the Mardi to Mangrove Pipeline, which transfers water efficiently from the flows in the Wyong Creek/Jilliby Jilliby Creek catchment ,as well as Ourimbah Creek.


The Central Coast has never looked back and although the region has suffered many dry times, water levels have risen exponentially to where we are now at over $76%. The Coast is pretty-well drought proof.


But dangers lurk for the catchment. The Grapevine exposed how Council and the state Department of Primary Industries conjured up “facts” that the Jilliby Jilliby Creek catchment adds ZERO water to our fresh water supplies. Once again when confronted, Council admitted that it was a mistake and the error would be corrected. This has not happened. Records still show that Jilliby Jilliby Creek does not contribute fresh water. This is more than an “error’’. It is an out and out lie that the ‘would-be’ if the ‘could-be’ leaches of local and state government continue to propagate for their own self-serving and selfish agenda. A proliferated lie by Council to the state government claiming that 80 percent of Coast residents want desalination. Less than a handful of people were surveyed (one tenth of one percent) for a predetermined outcome. No democracy there!


So, why is there misrepresentation of our dynamic catchment in Government documents? Why the rush to sell the community a massively expensive and pollutive desalination plant?


The answer: it all comes down to the Government and Council’s plan to overdevelop the coast, outstripping our natural assets of water, air and green spaces over the next 20 years.


The catchments are up for grabs by grubby developers and therefore would not be relied on so much to produce water. Desalinated water for consumption at huge cost and damage to our ocean ecosystem is Council’s answer to placate the greed and avarice of their developer mates.


The new Central Coast Regional Plan 2041, which Premier Perrottet put before the community prior to Christmas, shows massive overdevelopment and corridors of new housing development covering Warnervale, Wyee and Morisset, as well as the mooted ribbon development between Kariong and Erina.


The Central Coast community need an elected Council by this coming September so that we can all look in the door. A right that the state government and its client dictator find annoying, less it expose their hidden agenda.


It’s time for Coasties to get a bit angry and make their voices heard. So, be angry and email the Central Coast Parliamentary Secretary Adam Crouch – No one voted for overdevelopment or desalination. Tell him to stand up for the environment, clean open spaces and tourism instead.

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