How we do it
OperationsThe plant is currently in Water Security Mode. Our focus is to maintain and care for the plant to ensure is is ready when needed.
Water Security Mode means that the plant is not producing drinking water, but is in a state of care and maintenance. While the plant is not in production it will remain in care and maintenance to ensure that it will be ready when the time comes to commence production. Care and maintenance operations will continue until dam levels fall below 60%, when the restart process will begin. The plant will then continue to produce drinking water until dam levels rise above 70%.
When will the plant restart?
There is no way of predicting exactly what the weather will do and thus when the plant will start operating again. Sydney Desalination Plant's role is not to try and predict weather patterns but to make sure that the plant is ready whatever the weather may be. There is no certainty with the weather, but the likelihood is that demand for water will grow as population increases and the effects of changing climate means a heightened probability of future droughts. Having a means of providing safe drinking water that is not dependent on rainfall is essential for a first world city like Sydney.
What is involved in shutting down and then restarting the plant?
When the plant ceases treating water, the steps to enter the care and maintenance stage begin with capping the ocean intakes and outlets. This means that the plant can become ‘dry’ which protects and prolongs the stainless steel pipework and equipment and ensures the life of the concrete structures within the plant. The delicate reverse osmosis membranes are then put under preservation and the pipeline is disinfected and sealed. The workforce is essentially halved during this time.
When the plant receives the order to begin operating again, a number of procedures must occur before it can begin treating water. Firstly, the ocean intake and outlet caps would need to be removed to get seawater flowing into the plant. The membranes would need to be taken out of preservation. Recruitment of staff would occur and the pipeline would need to be disinfected. Once operations commence it is anticipated it will take up to eight months to be ready to produce water.