Desal plant to shut down

THE Gold Coast's desalination plant has begun supplying drinking water at full capacity for south east Queenslanders.

But the troubled plant will be shut down at the end of April for more repairs.

Despite “teething problems” with corroded equipment, the massive Tugun facility began supplying desalinated water to the South East Queensland Water Grid at 33 per cent capacity on February 26 and this week reached full capacity, according to Water Secure, the Queensland government body that will own the plant.

But full functionality will be short lived, with plans to temporarily shut down the plant at the end of April for repairs.

Water Secure chief executive Keith Davies told the Gold Coast Mail that corroded couplings and valves will be replaced during the shut down.

“The Gold Coast Desalination Alliance, the principal contractor responsible for constructing the plant, advises that its suppliers have responded rapidly to rectify the faults identified through the commissioning process,” Mr Davies said.

“Some teething pains are to be expected.

“To have it built in just two years and within estimated costs is a significant achievement.

“We understand the repairs will be completed within the project's approved cost estimate, ensuring value for money for taxpayers.”

However, Gecko secretary Lois Levy said the pro-environment group wrote to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh on January 18 about desalination plant concerns and had yet to receive a reply.

Ms Levy, who represented Gecko on the plant's community reference group, said: “At the (group's) final meeting we were assured everything was fine.

“While these issues may be of an engineering nature, doubts are raised about the lack of transparency of the process and the criteria used to assess the competence of the companies involved in completing the project.”

Currumbin MP Jann Stuckey has launched a petition calling for the desalination plant operators to restore damage to houses and streets in her electorate.

“Visible cracks are appearing in people's houses, doors won't shut because they have moved and the back of one person's house has dropped significantly,” Mrs Stuckey said.

She also blamed desalination plant construction work for the sinking of the Tugun Leagues Club ground and buildings.

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