September 13, 2006 01:25pm
Article from: AAP
VICTORIAN Premier Steve Bracks today defended a proposal to pipe billions of litres of treated water to the state's power stations to replace the fresh water they now use.
For the past two years, the Government has been investigating the feasibility of diverting 115 billion litres of Melbourne's waste water to the Latrobe Valley 100km away.
In return, the drinking water used to cool the coal-fired plants in the state's south-east would be sent back to help secure Melbourne's diminishing water supply.
"This was a key project to help secure Melbourne's water future for a very, very long time to come," Mr Bracks said today.
"It has been going through a clear examination on the feasibility of it â€“ the cost, the benefits, the environmental controls which will be required as part of it.
"It does have considerable benefits if this project proves to be successful following the business case and the feasibility study."
The scheme to divert the treated water to Gippsland would cut by about 80 per cent the 135 billion litres of sewage from Melbourne that flows into the ocean at Gunnamatta on the Mornington Peninsula.
Mr Bracks said it was too early to consider whether the project could be funded through a public-private partnership and whether the power stations themselves would be asked to contribute to the cost.
But he rejected suggestions local communities in the Latrobe Valley would be hostile to the loss of the fresh water from their catchment.
"We will fully consult as we have been over the last two years with communities including Gippsland of course."
Nationals Victorian leader Peter Ryan hit out at the plan, saying Gippsland would become a dumping ground for Melbourne's waste.
"The Nationals support water recycling, but we believe that the Melbourne metropolitan area should use its own recycled sewage and not pump it to Gippsland," Mr Ryan said.
"We are concerned that if this proposal goes ahead, it's just a matter of flicking a switch and more fresh water from Gippsland rivers will be sent to water Melbourne lawns and gardens."peMr Ryan called on the government to release its feasibility study before the November state election.
"There are concerns that the water will not be as extensively treated as it is today, and I also understand that there are doubts over whether the power industry can use the effluent as proposed by the government. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,20404238-1702,00.html