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Sydney's water desalination plant switched back on as dam levels drop

Sydney’s desalination plant has officially been switched on, returning it to operation for the first time in seven years. However, the plant’s finished product will not be flowing out of the city’s taps until at least April.

Sydney’s dam storage dropped below 60% in January, triggering the long-awaited restart procedures and putting the plant back in operation for the first time since 2012. Sydney Desalination Plant’s chief executive, Keith Davies, said drinkable water will be delivered to Sydney’s drinking water supply “within the next three to four months”.

“In line with our operating licence, we expect it will take up to eight months from restart for the plant to reach its maximum capacity of producing 250 million litres per day of water – or about 15% of Sydney’s drinking water requirements,” he said in a statement.

“The plant plays an important part in assisting the New South Wales government in implementing its wider measures aimed at alleviating the metropolitan impacts of the current drought.”

The NSW water minister, Don Harwin, said there was no reason to be alarmed about Sydney’s water because the dams still had more than two years’ worth of water supply.

The plant has been in an extended testing phase for months after being in a deep state of preservation. It has only previously operated once between 2010 and 2012. Under its contract, the desalination plant must operate for a minimum of 14 months under the metropolitan water plan and potentially until dam levels return to 70%. Sydneysiders can expect their annual water bills to increase by about $30 as a result.


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