SA Water begins environment investigations into new desalination plant at Penneshaw

SA Water's existing desalination plant at Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. Photo SA Water
SA Water's existing desalination plant at Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. Photo SA Water

SA Water will soon begin environment and geotechnical investigations on Kangaroo Island, as part of design and planning for a new seawater desalination plant in Penneshaw.

State and Federal Government funding was confirmed earlier this year for the $47.8 million project, which through an additional climate-independent supply of drinking water, aims to improve water security for local residents and businesses, and support the Island's tourism and agriculture industries.

SA Water's General Manager of Strategy, Engagement and Innovation Anna Jackson said over the next several weeks, the local community may notice its project team and contractors using specialised equipment in the Penneshaw area, to carry out in-field assessments and surveys.

"These will help inform the exact location of the new water infrastructure and ensure we're able to protect and preserve the surrounding natural environment, both during construction and once operational," Anna said.

"The new plant will be built in the vicinity of the existing 400 kilolitre a day desalination facility at Penneshaw, which has been supplying water since 1999.

"In addition to the new desalination plant, we're also looking to construct around 50 kilometres of underground transfer pipeline and smaller reticulation mains which will connect into the existing Middle River-Kingscote system.

"This new part of the network will have capacity to provide safe, reliable and affordable drinking water to more than 1000 residents in Baudin Beach, Island Beach, Sapphiretown and American River, who currently rely on private rainwater tanks or water carters for their drinking water supply.

"We'll be speaking to these communities directly over the coming months, with this consultation helping to determine where the new pipes will be laid."

Starting this week and continuing into the new year, SA Water is ramping up engagement with the Kangaroo Island community to provide updates on project progress and detail how local industry can get involved.

"People can come along to the Penneshaw Hall this Thursday evening December 10 to learn more about the proposed desalination plant and the social and economic benefits it will provide the Island," Anna said.

"Through an upcoming information session, we're also keen to hear from businesses on Kangaroo Island, who can help us deliver this important project. This follows an online session held in late November.

"During the construction phase, we'll be looking for capabilities such as site investigation work, logistics (transport), trenching and pipe laying, as well as civil earthworks, fence installation, mechanical and electrical services and construction of the desalination building itself.

"There will also be opportunities to support our team and the crews who'll be working on the ground, with services such as accommodation and catering.

"We're already engaging with groups like the Kangaroo Island Council, and will continue to update them and the wider community as the project progresses."

Subject to required development and environmental approvals, construction of the desalination plant and supporting infrastructure is expected to begin in 2021, with operations scheduled to start by late 2022.

To register for this week's Penneshaw community session or for more information on the project, visit watertalks.sawater.com.au

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