Building starts on desalination plant

CONSTRUCTION started yesterday on the Agnes Water/Seventeen Seventy Integrated Water Project, which includes the controversial desalination plant.

Locals have protested against the $40 million project since it was first announced in August 2007.

Anti-desalination plant campaigner Maggie Behal said, after years of opposing the plant, the community was disappointed the project was to go ahead.

“We think there are better options for a back-up water system,” she said.

Among the criticism levelled at Gladstone Regional Council was that the laying of pipes for the project would disturb the breeding cycle of the turtles.

However, council director of infrastructure services Ross Paroz said the Department of Environment and Resources Management had applied strict condition of approval to ensure there was minimal impact to flora and fauna.

The council will not build on the beach during turtle nesting season and no lights will be used at night unless there is an emergency.

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, who has been vocally opposed the desalination plant, said he was surprised the council did not inform him of yesterday’s media site visit.

“It shows an appalling lack of manners,” he said.

A council spokeswoman said Mr Messenger arrived at the site yesterday to register his complaint about not being invited.

It was pointed out to him the event was to inform the media about the project, but that he was welcome to stay.

He declined, but asked to be taken through the site at another time.

A desalination plant was the preferred option by council after it rejected an alternative water source that would have required constructing a 105km pipeline from Awoonga Dam.

Council water and sewerage manager Phil Boshoff said the project was the cheapest and best option.

He said the plant would deliver 1.5 megalitres of water to the two communities when it became operational in about 18 months’ time.



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