Desalination plants pollute fisheries, says expert

With construction of Sydney’s controversial desalination plant well underway at Kurnell and across the Botany Bay sea floor, a visiting expert says South Australia’s environment will fall into decline by following the lead of the NSW government.

Senior advisor to the President of the United Nations general assembly, Maude Barlow says South Australia is heading towards disaster by relying on the Port Stanvac desalination plant.
In Adelaide to inspect the Lower Lakes and stormwater projects Barlow said, “The world is running out of clean water. This contradicts what we all learned in school, which was that there is an infinite hydrologic cycle and we cannot run out of water, no matter how much we use or waste. But what our teachers did not know and could not teach us was that in a few short decades, humans would create a freshwater demand that far outstrips the earth’s supply.”

Barlow said a world perspective showed water was not just a South Australian problem.
She said the World Economic Forum concedes the world is on the edge of “water bankruptcy”.
“I would count Australia among the ‘hot stains’ – a nation destroying its water heritage in order to remain an economic powerhouse and lulled by successive political leaders into thinking that this is just a temporary drought and that technology will save the day.”
She said large dams wasted water through evaporation, and said householders and families were being asked to save what little water they used to subsidise big agri-businesses which were “plundering” the Murray River.

“Australian governments of all stripes are also busy building expensive, energy-guzzling desalination plants that will further pollute the fishing grounds and coral reefs.
“Desalination plants generate a poisonous by-product, a lethal combination of concentrated salt brine, the chemicals needed for the reverse osmosis process, and the aquatic life sucked into the process.”

In a speech to the Australian Water Summit, Ms Barlow quoted Dr Ian Dyson, a marine sedimentologist, who says the discharge from Adelaide’s plant will create huge hyper saline sea lakes, aquatic dead zones that will have catastrophic impacts on the fisheries.


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