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Trip to Wonthaggi and the desalination plant

Tuesday 10th February 2015

A group from Probus Club of Donvale Hill Inc. departed the RSL Doncaster a little late and headed to Ringwood bowling club where we met a contingent from Maroondah Probus Club Inc. and a fine bunch of Probians they are, great company.

The Lamble coach headed down the freeway towards Dandenong and then left the freeways and headed down roads most of the group had never seen before and through suburbs they did not know existed.

Eventually the Coach joined the South Gippsland Highway on the city side of Tooradin which was to be our coffee stop for the morning. The detour was to avoid going through Cranbourne!

Onward the Coach went and arrived at the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant at about 11 AM, and alighted at the front door to the office complex. All were greeted and shown to the auditorium.

From the information supplied.

This is the biggest desalination plant in the southern hemisphere.

The third biggest ever built any were in the world.

The plant stands on a 235 hectare site, much of which now has public walking, cycling paths and horse riding trails within the acreage

The landscaping is all done with the soils excavated from the site and planted with local indigenous plantings, all of which were promulgated at the site

The major feature of the landscaping is the roof of the main building, which would not fit into the MCG, it has 6 layers of sands and soil rising to about 3 meters above the roof line and is planted in the same manner as the surrounding landscape. (Fascinating exercise and makes the building almost invisible from a distance.

At the height of building there were 2500 workers on site. Now the plant is run 24 hours a day 365 days per year, and has a total staff on 56 persons, whether producing drinkable water or not.

Sea water is drawn into the plant from 5 kilometres out to sea, and the residue water and salt is delivered back into the ocean 4.5 kilometres out

The2 pipes are big enough to drive a Toyota Land Cruiser through.

This intake can draw 12 tonnes of water per second into the initial filters.

The reverse osmosis action (filtration under massive pressure) will produce about 5 tonnes of freshwater per second and the remainder goes back to the sea.

The holding capacity at the plant is only 3 to 4 hours of production, so once producing, the water is headed for Cardinia dam or a number of small water operations in the south Gippsland basin.

The production capacity of this plant at full production is just 30% of Melbourne requirements and as the city grows that percentage will diminish. So yes eventually the plant will be in full production but not right now.

A most interesting presentation with good visuals but a very poor audio system making hearing all the information difficult. A quick drive in the coach around the plant finished the hour long presentation.

An interesting statistic: Since water restrictions have been relaxed Melbourne’s water consumption has increased by 75% per head of population.

From there it was on to Wonthaggi for lunch.

Back on the coach and the next stop was an antique and second hand shop in Lang Lang

One member made a mess of one of the displays, as boys do, can’t keep his fingers off the merchandise.


Back onto the South Gippsland Highway for a short while and then up through Koo Wee Rup and onto Highway 1 near Pakenham. Dropped off our new friends at Ringwood and then home to Doncaster

An interesting day and well done Ken for his efforts in arranging the day and accompanying us all.

John Blake