By YVONNE McLEAN
FOURTEEN Gold Coast sites from South Stradbroke Island to the border are being assessed as possible sites for desalination plants which through the osmosis process would remove the salt from the sea and produce water for human use.
It is a process which is enormously costly with a number of unfriendly environmental issues which must be resolved.
But a process which could now be inevitable, according to the city council's water sustainability committee chairwoman, Cr Daphne McDonald.
"Continuing drought, the unpredictability of rainfall, increasing demand from a dramatic population surge, have made it clear for some time that alternate water resources other than dams must be planned, and utilising the sea around us is one such resource," she said.
"After a great deal of investigation, the council's Water Futures advisory body (comprising council officers, elected members and outside people with appropriate expertise) has recommended 14 possible sites and very soon, in days perhaps, those sites will be published and extensively displayed throughout the city.
"I urge all residents to study the sites and express their opinions. Desalination plants work 24 hours and have a big impact on the local environment ? details of the impact will also be explained to the community," Cr McDonald said.
"We have already heard protests about any plant being established at The Spit. I have concerns about a suggested site at Palm Beach, near the Tallebudgera Creek and Elanora Treatment Plant. I should imagine local residents would feel the same."
Cr McDonald said the council would work closely with the State Government on desalination planning because all water supplies were now a regional matter.
"More water restrictions are expected to be imposed by Brisbane and other south-east councils whose water supply reservoirs including the huge Wivenhoe Dam are drying up," Cr McDonald said.
"These restrictions will be supported by Gold Coast City, so our residents will face a ban on sprinklers in October unless heavy rain in the south-east falls soon."
Last week, Cr McDonald joined in an inspection of a remarkable house that has been built by developers of the Heritage Pacific Estate at Coomera.
"This is a house of the future, an innovative home utilising every practical measure to conserve and re-use water.
"This is a home which recognises and reacts to a looming water shortage in Australia.
"The house is open for inspection and is a real eye-opener in demonstrating what can be done to literally save every drop," Cr McDonald said.
The council contributed $30,000 towards the innovations in water use throughout the home.
In a late move, councillors called for expressions of interest in a partnership in desalination plants.