By YVONNE McLEAN
THE pre-planning stage of the city council's desalination pilot scheme has begun at Kropp Park, Tugun.
This initial stage will test five cubic metres of water daily to assess the water quality - a prerequisite of any full-scale desalination process.
Council's water supply spokesperson, Cr Daphne McDonald, said early testing had found water quality of the sea off Kropp Park to be very good. The water testing process would continue for three to four months.
Cr McDonald said whether or not a full desalination project continued depended on the weather.
"If good rainfall increases the Wivenhoe Dam capacity significantly, we may well proceed with the construction of a new longer pipeline to Wivenhoe in order to increase our intake and in that case desalination will be on hold for the future," she said.
"Council has progressively planned for a desalination plant to produce 55 megalitres daily to accommodate local emergency demands only. However we have been requested by the State Government to increase that to 110 megalitres a day," she said.
The benchmark price for a 123 ML intake would be $265 million ? on a shared cost with the State Government as the additional desalination resource would be heading north.
According to Cr McDonald, council will make no definitive decision on desalination or the new pipeline to Wivenhoe until July. She said desalination had always been planned as an emergency source only.
Cr McDonald said it was extremely difficult to bring down a definitive figure on a desalination project. So much depends on geotechnical data, both offshore and onshore.
If the project proceeded full-on, the works would be constructed close to the Tugun Tip site.
Offshore investigative work requires specialised drilling platforms and the only appropriate jack-up barge currently available is based in Singapore. A council officer report states it would take three or four months from the date of signing a contract for the barge to be readied and arrive here. Weather conditions could affect bore hole drilling.
Cr McDonald said desalination, seawater reverse osmosis, could well be ready to roll by August 2008.