Construction has begun for Kangaroo Island’s new seawater desalination plant, which will improve drinking water reliability, support the local economy and provide greater bushfire resilience. 

More than $64 million is being invested in the project, with the new 2ML a day capacity plant to supplement the smaller existing nearby desalination facility and Middle River Reservoir.

SA Water, together with major construction partner John Holland Guidera O’Connor joint venture, have begun setting up equipment, fencing and temporary site huts, as well as ground preparation at the Penneshaw site. 

SA Water’s General Manager of Sustainable Infrastructure, Amanda Lewry, said this work is happening in parallel with the continuing installation of pipeline to connect customers in four local communities to the new desalination facility and water supply network. 

“Close to 12 of a total 50km of large underground water main has been laid, and this pipe – along with smaller reticulation mains – will deliver water to more than a thousand residents in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown,” Ms Lewry said. 

“These communities currently rely on private rainwater tanks or water carters for their drinking water, with the new desalination plant and water network providing access to a safe, reliable and climate-independent supply of drinking water. 

“Fire plugs will also be strategically placed along the pipes, enabling fire authorities and water carters for the first time, direct access to water via our infrastructure in these areas, to fill or refill.” 

SA Water’s development application for the desalination plant was informed by detailed marine and land assessments, with the site at the corner of Hog Bay Road and Williams Walkers Way determined as the most suitable, based on a range of criteria. 

The independent State Commission Assessment Panel’s review and assessment process opened the application for public consultation and considered feedback, with conditions set to ensure areas such as road safety and environmental management are managed in accordance with regulations and community expectations. 

“Comprehensive community and stakeholder engagement was another integral part of our planning process, and in fact, community feedback resulted in a decision to move the plant site approximately 60m southwest of the initial location, with the new placement enabling us to better use the existing landscape as screening,” Ms Lewry said.

A community working group established in Penneshaw is continuing to inform landscaping and visual amenity opportunities at the plant site, including the selection of key building colours and native vegetation.

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