MILLIONS of litres of salt water waste destined to render land unproductive is now being safely pumped into the ocean after the completion of a multi-million-dollar brine project in Warrnambool.
Wannon Water officially unveiled the $3.6 million brine management facility in Warrnambool’s industrial estate yesterday.
The new system of piping and treatment tanks has been purpose built to take the wastewater from western district mineral businesses and dairy producers.
Wannon Water managing director Grant Green said thousands of trucks had been through the site, discharging the salty brine into tanks and sewers, where it then flowed onto the reclamation plant for processing before being sent into the ocean.
“It’s not detrimental to the ocean. The only other alternative to something like this is to build a pit — a liner with clay — and then evaporate the brine off it but you’re still left with the residual salt so it’s a very difficult thing to do,” Mr Green said.
Brine is roughly one-quarter the strength of sea water and has no practical use.
“It would be like irrigating land with water from the ocean,” Mr Green said.
“It’s been up and going for a few months. Initially Iluka Minerals approached us because they had an issue with their brine. We couldn’t receive it at the Hamilton reclamation plant because all the water from that plant goes to land.
“The only other option for Iluka was to cart the brine back up to their Ouyen mine site.”
At least 1.5 million kilometres have been shaved off the travel time for trucks crossing western Victoria.
South West Coast MP and Premier Denis Napthine said the water treatment would give a bigger incentive for local industries to expand, bringing more people into the region.
“We are absolutely of the belief that population growth is good for our economy … we all benefit from population growth,” Dr Napthine said.
“I know there are different views but that’s our view as a government.”
The state government contributed $1.5 million towards the Warrnambool project and another in Camperdown that will handle water from the saleyards.
Mr Green said mining companies looking to extract copper from near the Grampians could be future customers.
Iluka, Mortlake Power Station and dairy group Aussie Farmers are using the site.
Wannon Water hopes to make $1 million each year from fees charged for the service.