PORTLAND would benefit from a new wave of tourism via hot water pools if a planned $3.25 million project to reopen a decommissioned geothermal bore goes ahead.
Glenelg Shire Council has earmarked $1.625m for the project which would be matched by the Napthine government if it wins the November 29 elections.
Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine announced on Friday a commitment to back the shire’s plan to sink a new bore to tap into the natural supply of hot underground water which would be used to heat civic buildings, the hospital, police station and other facilities — just as it did before it was shut down in 2006.
“Recommissioning the geothermal heating systems will enable Glenelg Shire Council to tap into this sustainable and cost effective energy source,” he said.
“The bore was closed when the previous Labor government failed to provide required investment to keep it working, meaning council and Portland District Health had to find alternative heating sources.
“Drilling a new bore, subject to relevant approvals, will lead to cheaper energy bills and reduced emissions for council.”
Glenelg Shire will own and operate the bore after unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a joint venture with Wannon Water.
Expensive operating costs, reliability issues with the circulating main and boiler problems triggered the decommissioning.
Dr Napthine told The Standard Portland could become a showcase for efficient geothermal energy.
“There’s potential to develop geothermal tourism,” he said.
“We need to take advantage of the asset.
“Now the water comes out of the ground at 63 degrees, it is cooled down and then reheated with natural gas for heating systems.
The funding will be used not only to drill a new bore but to also install new flow control systems, new heat exchange equipment and replace pipe work.