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  • Rikki Lambert

EP desal federal funding could take a year - will a decision be made sooner?

The rugged Lincoln National Park coastline on the Eyre Peninsula's southern tip

The South Australian water minister has indicated on FlowFM that her enquiries to federal Labor colleagues indicated it could take longer than when a decision needs to be made about desalination for the Eyre Peninsula.

Dr Susan Close told Flow listeners on Thursday:

"There's a challenge over where we should be having this desal plant. SA Water came up with a location, some locals particularly associated with aquaculture were concerned about that location. The last government with David Speirs as environment minister decided that rather than make a decision then, he would create a site selection committee with community members. I inherited that and was prepared to let them continue their work."
"They have been looking at various alternatives - all of those alternatives we know are much more expensive and therefore we've gone to Canberra and said if we were to choose one of these, would you help us fund it.
"It's not certain whether they would fund it at all, but it would take them a good year to work that out. We're concerned about the water security of Port Lincoln and the Eyre Peninsula. The Uley Basin is under serious pressure. We can't afford to have ... the town run out of water. ... It will all come together very soon."

Hear the full interview on the Flow podcast player below:

Site Selection Committee chair and former Liberal MP for Flinders Peter Treloar told Flow on Wednesday:

"This is only a relatively small desalination plant, it's just 5.3 gigalitres which is proposed. To put that into perspective, the Adelaide desal plant is 100 gigalitres.
"The existing supply is under pressure, most of it comes from the southern basins .... the extraction rates and lack of recharge in recent years has seen that resource decline and we're concerned about the long term sustainability of that."

A week earlier, Liberal shadow water minister Nicola Centofanti had attacked the minister for inaction on making a decision, saying:

"The desalination plant isn’t just critical for the Eyre Peninsula but the entire state.
"The sun’s set on Susan Close’s overseas holiday, so now’s the time for her to rise to the occasion and find a timely solution for the Eyre Peninsula’s water supply issues."


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