Labor still coy about cost to run desal plant
THE Tugun desalination plant has returned to “hot standby” mode, prompting questions about the cost of operating the $1.2 billion facility.
LNP Currumbin MP Jann Stuckey is furious after the latest response to another question to the Government about plant operating schedules and which location received the recycled water.
The desalination plant has been branded a white elephant since being built to droughtproof the Coast and the latest information confirms its role as a back-up service.
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham, in his response, said the plant provided 365 megalitres of water during the Molendinar water treatment upgrade in August 2016 and operated for 15 days in 2017 during Cyclone Debbie.
Production at the desalination plant was ramped up again late last year for 26 days during maintenance work at the Mudgeeraba plant, producing 594 megalitres.
Between May and August this year Tugun produced 2904 megalitres enabling work to be undertaken at the Mount Crosby water treatment plant.
Dr Lynham in his reply said he was “unable to identify specific locations to which the water was transported”.
Ms Stuckey told the Bulletin: “In May of this year I asked a Question on Notice regarding the expense per megalitre to operate the facility and was fobbed off with an answer that gave costs of continuous running of the plant when we all know it is in ‘hot standby mode’ and only used as backup somewhere else.”
The LNP in Government during an Estimates hearing in 2013 estimated costs at $4881 per megalitre at Tugun compared to $256 per megalitre for SEQ dam water.
Ms Stuckey said Dr Lynham had maintained Tugun’s production cost to be $800 per megalitre which was a “massive and questionable difference”.