Numerous marine scientists from government and aquaculture groups joined together at an independent forum last week, discussing initial marine science studies to support SA Water’s proposal to build a desalination plant on the Eyre Peninsula.
Representatives from SA Water, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), independent Marine Science Review Panel and scientific experts supporting several local aquaculture groups met in Adelaide for the roundtable discussion.
SA Water General Manager for Sustainable Infrastructure, Amanda Lewry, welcomed the latest meeting, which follows previous community marine science forums the utility held at Port Lincoln earlier in the year.
“This week’s forum enabled marine science specialists to engage in meaningful and informed dialogue to better understand each other’s views on research undertaken to date, as well as present any further data that could inform our development application for the project,” Ms Lewry said.
“Among the key points of discussion were the far field hydrodynamic modelling used to support our decision to select Billy Lights Point, ongoing marine assessments, particle tracking modelling, environmental monitoring requirements and ecotoxicity testing.
“A further point that we and all attendees at the forum agree on is how critical it is to deliver a long-term climate-independent water security solution, which will relieve pressure on the region’s current primary drinking water source, the Uley South Basin, and support economic growth.
“We thank members of the aquaculture community for participating in a collaborative way to raise issues that are important to them, and for remaining focused on the facts and data.
“It’s important to note that we are aiming to address all feedback on the project – including what was shared at the forum – within our development application, which will be assessed by multiple agencies and regulators through a comprehensive approval process.
“This transparency is also continuing through discussions with our existing Project Reference Group, which remains our primary ongoing forum for engagement. The group is made up of eight community representatives, including people from aquaculture, local business and local councils, as well as individuals experienced in working in the agriculture sector.
“Through this group and then with the broader community, we will be looking to share more updates as we progress further marine science assessment and detailed engineering designs for the plant and connecting infrastructure,” said Ms Lewry.
A summary of key themes from the forum, as compiled by the independent facilitator, will be made available at watertalks.sawater.com.au/getthefacts.