Having the capacity to supply up to 15 percent of our current water needs (90 billion litres a year).
Sydney’s rainfall is highly variable and there is the possibility that we could face more droughts in the future. Combined with the potential impacts of climate change and a growing population, it makes sense to balance our dams and water recycling with a source of water that doesn’t rely on rain.
When operating at full capacity, the Sydney’s desalination plant can produce 90 billion litres of water a year, enough to supply up to 15 percent of greater Sydney’s current water needs.
The desalination plant uses reverse osmosis technology to extract fresh water from seawater. Water from the desalination plant enters the system at Erskineville and is distributed to approximately 1.5 million people across the Sydney CBD, inner west, eastern suburbs, southern Sydney and parts of the Sutherland shire, and at times as far west as Auburn.
The desalination plant came on line in January 2010. It ran at full capacity during a two year ‘defects correction period’. During this period, the operation of the plant was monitored for water quality, performance and impacts on the supply system.
Currently, the following operating rules apply: the plant will operate at full capacity and supply desalinated water to Sydney Water’s area of operations when the total dam storage level is below 70 percent and will continue to do so until the total dam storage level reaches 80 percent.
The energy requirements of the plant are 100 percent offset by renewable energy from a 67 turbine wind farm near Bungendore.
More information on desalination can be found in Chapter 5 of the 2010 Metropolitan Water Plan (PDF), or you can visit the Sydney Water website where you can find out if your water is coming from the desalination plant, and view short animations of the desalination process.