Posted on 21. May, 2010 in News

The first of 87 kilometres of underground power infrastructure for Victoria’s Desalination Plant has been laid, as the project continues to be delivered on time and on budget.

The Premier, John Brumby, and Water Minister Tim Holding today visited Caldermeade to inspect works on the underground power supply and Wonthaggi to inspect progress at the desalination plant site.

Mr Brumby said with works now underway on the pipeline, underground power cable, and at the desalination plant site, there were now more than 2000 people working on the project.

“The desalination plant, which will provide up to 150 billion litres of water from the end of 2011 regardless of rainfall, is Victoria’s insurance policy against future droughts and climate change,” Mr Brumby said.

“We have listened to the local community and chosen underground power instead of overhead power lines as it will have the least impact on landowners, farmers and local people living and working in the area.

“We have also committed to fully offset the power required to operate the plant and pipeline through the purchase of renewable energy.

“Together with the Food Bowl Modernisation Project and Sugarloaf Pipeline, our new desalination plant is our roadmap back from severe water restrictions.”

The underground power cable will run alongside the pipeline which will transfer desalinated water to Melbourne’s water storages. The power cable diverts near Clyde North and travels along an existing electricity easement to the Cranbourne Terminal Station.

Conduit for the power cable is laid in a trench with thermal backfill and the power cable is pulled through in 1.2km lengths.

Mr Brumby said more than two thirds of the $650 million in contracts for work on the desalination plant, pipeline and power supply had been invested in Victoria.

“The power infrastructure being installed today is just one example of how construction of the Victorian Desalination Project has boosted our economy and helped secure jobs in tough economic times,” Mr Brumby said.

“The power cable has been manufactured by Olex in Tottenham, the conduit is being supplied by Sunshine-based Vinidex and thermal backfill is coming from Boral quarries at Cranbourne and Grantville.”

Mr Holding said with Melbourne’s water storages only at 33 per cent, Victoria needed a reliable, non-rainfall dependent source of water – this is why the desalination plant is so important.

“By turning sea water into drinking water we will ensure that we have enough water for Melbourne, Geelong and towns in Western Port and South Gippsland.

Mr Holding said since construction started on the project in September there had been considerable progress including:

  • Earthworks are more than 90 percent complete with 1.3 million cubic metres of earth excavated and dunes created to minimise the visual impact of the plant;
  • 266 tonnes of structural steel has been erected for the building which will house the desalination technology;
  • Equipment on site includes 18 cranes, 20 excavators, 8 dozers and 32 haul trucks;
  • 13 kilometres of pipe have been laid and more than two thirds of the 84km easement has been cleared and prepared for work; and
  • Tunnelling for the intake and outlet pipes out to sea is due to start in the next few months.

AGL has also started construction on the Oaklands Hill Wind Farm in western Victoria, which will contribute to the renewable energy offsets for the desalination project. AGL is providing fixed price electricity and renewable energy under a 30-year contract.

Major contracts have been awarded to Victorian companies such as Tyco Water ($150 million to manufacture steel pipes) and One Steel ($14 million) and Page Steel ($7 million) for steel fabrication.

Closer to the plant site, Donmix from Wonthaggi and partner Barro Group won a $17 million contract for concrete supply and RTL Morwell has been awarded a $10 million earthworks contract.

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