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Have your say on desalination - IWC Masters student research

International WaterCentre (IWC) intern Ayona Sur is keen to find out what you think about salt water desalination plants as a key fresh water source in south-east Queensland.

The postgraduate student from Monash University in collaboration with IWC is undertaking independent research on public attitudes on desalination plants in the state’s south-east region. Ayona’s research will investigate whether south-east Queenslanders agree with current government regulation and provision of water from desalination plants.

“Desalination is a reliable water source requiring high initial capital investment and increasing production and energy costs,” Ayona said.  “I aim to discover what the general public thinks about current Queensland Government regulation and plans for desalination plants.”

The research will also delve into public views about government regulation regarding the long-term economic and environmental impacts of desalination plants. Ayona will also gauge people’s opinions on what they may see as possible alternatives to desalination.

Project supervisor and IWC Senior Lecturer in Integrated Water Management, Dr Brian McIntosh, said Ayona’s research filled a gap in regional knowledge on general public views on State Government regulation of salt water desalination plants. “Over the past several decades, a tremendous growth in human populations and industrial activities has resulted in a significant demand for fresh and clean water,” Dr McIntosh said. To meet these challenges and pressures, securing alternative water supplies has become critical.”

Dr McIntosh said desalination was especially relevant to water-stress regions and countries like Australia. However, he added that the significant costs and externalities for desalination made it a potentially contentious issue for governments and the public.

Currently, the State Government has spent $1.2 billion on Queensland's only desalination plant at Tugun on the Gold Coast to help support the water needs of the 2.5 million people who live in South-East Queensland. The State Government plans to make Queensland home to a total of four desalination plants by 2030 to cope with the region's projected population growth and demand for water. They will be built at Marcoola, on the Sunshine Coast, Lytton, at the Port of Brisbane, Bribie Island and at the site of the existing desalination plant at Tugun, which will be expanded.

Please provide your views on salt water desalination plants in south-east Queensland to Ayona Sur. Requests for anonymity will be acknowledged and respected.


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