Belmont desalination plant
We are planning to build a permanent desalination plant at Belmont. A permanent plant is a key action in the recently released Lower Hunter Water Security Plan.
Desalination is an important rainfall-independent water supply option and will help support our customers and communities with a safe and reliable water source regardless of changes in weather or climate.
We selected Belmont as the location for a desalination plant following the completion of a multi-site analysis that compared:
- the costs of the plant and associated infrastructure
- power supply requirements and
- community and environmental impacts.
The site at Belmont provided the best option for a number of reasons including ability to connect to our water system, proximity to the ocean and low levels of community disruption and impacts due to the relatively remote location. In addition we already own the land and construction costs are lower than for other sites.
The site also allows the discharge of brine (the remaining salt water from the desalination process) to the ocean via the existing outfall at the nearby Belmont Wastewater Treatment Works.
A permanent desalination plant at Belmont:
- will add up to 30 million litres per day of rainfall-independent water supply to the Lower Hunter’s water system, which is around 15% of the region’s average daily water needs
- increases the diversity of the region’s water supply system, which will improve the resilience of the overall system and help Hunter Water to continue to support customers and communities regardless of climate or system shocks
- helps to reduce the rate that storages deplete in a long and severe drought by around six months, delaying the need to implement severe drought response measures
- provides a flexible water supply source that is responsive to water supply needs.
Greenhouse gas emissions from desalination will be incorporated into Hunter Water’s Carbon Strategy.
We currently have approval to build a drought response desalination plant at Belmont, which was to have proceeded if the Hunter reached critical water storage levels in drought conditions.
Now the Lower Hunter Water Security Plan has been released, we plan to seek approval to build and operate a permanent desalination plant at Belmont instead.
This involves preparing a Modification Report for the existing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), originally approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for the drought response plant. You can view the existing approval documents on the NSW Planning Major Projects portal.
We expect to submit the Modification Report to the NSW Department of Planning Environment in 2023. We expect the desalination plant will take about four years to build once we have approvals.
Questions and answers
What happens to the salt from seawater?
How does the desalinated water taste?
How much will the plant cost to build?
Who pays to build and run the plant?