Water Journal : Water Journal February 2013
FEBRUARY 2013 WATER 53 Feature Article AquaSure and its contractors set up a number of systems and processes to minimise the construction and other impacts on the 6,500 residents of Wonthaggi, the 500 directly and indirectly impacted landowners across the plant and pipeline, and users of the road network across three shires. In response to concerns about the visual impact of the plant on the coastline, the desalination plant was designed to be barely visible from all public viewing points. More than 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil was excavated from the site so that facilities could be constructed at a reduced ground level. Spoil was retained on site and used to construct a series of dunes that help blend the plant with the natural landscape and provide visual and acoustic protection to neighbours. The architectural concept was based on a 'green line' that runs through the site, changing form and content as it moves from a natural landscape element to a constructed dune formation, a living roof, a footprint encompassing buildings and, ultimately, a restored landscape. Even though the plant is one of the biggest in the world, it has a very small footprint, taking up just 38 hectares of the 263-hectare site. The remaining 225 hectares, which was predominantly utilised for construction, is the focus of one of the largest ecological restoration projects in Victoria's history. By the end of 2013, planting in the area will be complete to create wetlands, coastal and swampy woodlands and a new habitat for local fauna. Plants and trees will reinstate the indigenous vegetation cleared over the years to make way for mining and grazing, and more than 8km of new pedestrian, cycling and horse riding paths are being constructed to link the plant site to existing community trails. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Throughout construction, TDJV worked closely with members of the local community and business owners to maximise the economic bene t of the facility in the region and to minimise any adverse impact on the community. Prior to work commencing, Thiess Degrémont executed a comprehensive communications campaign including newspaper columns, Fact Sheets and videos explaining the marine design and environmental approval process. A number of information sessions were also held and attended by members of the community and co-hosted by construction engineers and desalination process experts. Talking with local people about how they might be affected by the desalination plant was an important part of ongoing project implementation. Potential environmental impacts from the marine work were a signi cant concern for the local community. Being accessible to the majority of the community, local councils, water authorities and other interested parties was also important and AquaSure and TDJV (building on the work that the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) had established in the local area) undertook a number of initiatives to ensure constant and consistent accessibility, including: • 24-hour contact line • Community Information Centre in Wonthaggi • A regular update from AquaSure's CEO, Chris Herbert, in the local newspapers • Website • Neighbour doorknocks • Letterbox drops • Open days • Information sessions • Brie ngs and presentations • Community committees such as the Community Liaison Group, and Traf c Management Liaison Group • Many of these initiatives will continue throughout the 27-year operations and maintenance phase. During the three years of construction TDJV's community relations team welcomed nearly 15,000 visitors into the Community Information Centre and engaged with over 10,000 people through community presentations, information sessions, site visits and community events. ECONOMIC IMPACT As well as providing a boost to employment, the project generated around $1.3 billion of supply contracts, with three-quarters to Australian companies and two-thirds of these to Victorian companies. On the plant site, 100% of the civil component was procured from Victorian or Australian companies, as well as 50% of the mechanical component and 50% of the electrical component. On the pipeline more than 90% of the civil, mechanical and electrical components were procured from Australian or Victorian companies. At the local level the project provided a signi cant boost to the local economy Inside the 1.2km underground intake tunnel.
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