GOLD Coast residents will be given the opportunity to have their say on the sites proposed for a new desalination plant.
Water Sustainability Committee chairwoman Cr Daphne McDonald said last week that the council was continuing to underpin the city's water security by pushing ahead with investigations for a plant.
Cr McDonald said that as well as a long-term supplementary source of water, desalination was also a promising prospect for 'emergency situations'.
She said that, if required, a desalination plant could be operational within a few years.
There are 12 possible locations for the plant but economic, environmental and social considerations had brought this down to three "stand-outs".
They are Tugun (west of the airport), Coombabah (adjacent to council's waste water treatment plant) and Pimpama (on the site of a future waste water treatment plant off Kerkin Road).
These three sites will be the focus of extensive community consultation if endorsed by council later this month.
"With climate change and decreased rainfall, there is no more urgent priority or serious issue facing the city ? and the nation ? than ensuring a safe, reliable water supply," Cr McDonald said.
Cr McDonald said councillors have been briefed on the potential sites for the plant.
She said a report, which is now expected to go to council on November14, looked at all the pros and cons of desalination ? the conversion of seawater into drinking water ? as well as 'indirect potable reuse'.
This latter option involves a recycled water process, converting highly treated wastewater into drinking water for general consumption.
Under this option, wastewater from the Merrimac waste water treatment plant would be treated to a high quality and then blended with water from rivers or dams before being treated at a water treatment plant for general consumption.
Cr McDonald said her preference was for desalination.
"The bottom line is, ongoing dry weather conditions with predicted low rainfall across the region, means that a new emergency water source ? that is not dependent on the climate ? needs to be investigated now and possibly implemented by the end of 2007," Cr McDonald said.