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A Nice Glass of Seawater? Drought Forces Australia to Rethink Desalination

  • Victoria ponders turning on A$5.7 billion desalination plant
  • Global desalinated water capacity may double by 2030, GWI says
Each white tube lining the warehouse performs reverse osmosis in the desalination process at the Thiess Degremont, Victorian Desalination project in Wonthaggi, south east of Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.
Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg
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On the southeast coast of Australia, a A$5.7 billion ($4.1 billion) processing plant to turn the ocean into a source of drinking water has sat idle since it was built in 2012. That could change soon. 

The state of Victoria will decide by April whether to switch it on, sucking water from the Bass Strait through an underground tunnel into a complex of more than two dozen buildings in a seaside town south of Melbourne. At the heart of the facility is technology that can remove salt and supply as much as 150 billion liters (40 billion gallons) of water a year, or about a third of the city’s consumption.