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Water for good


A huge new desalination plant in Lonsdale will provide South Australia with up to 100 billion litres of water each year for decades to come.

In a country like Australia – with its large desert regions and extensive coastline – water is always going to be a significant issue.

Desalination, the process by which excess salt and other minerals are extracted from water, is an effective way for Australia to dramatically increase its supply of usable water. And, although debates around its use continue, it is going to become increasingly important and widespread in the next few years.

According to a 2009 CSIRO report, desalination production capacity will be broadly spread across most states of Australia by 2013. “The existing trend towards desalted supplies for municipal and industrial purposes is likely to continue, as climate change effects become more pronounced across the major part of the Australian continent and the prospect of running out of water becomes more evident. Water reclamation, most notably by industry, will be essential,” the report says.

One example of this proliferation is a seawater desalination plant at Lonsdale, south of Adelaide that the South Australian Government is building to ensure drinking water is available even in times of drought. Adelaide Aqua (a consortium of four
Companies: United Utilities, Acciona, Abigroup and McConnell Dowell) has been contracted to design, build, operate and maintain the plant for the next 20 years.

The project, part of the state’s ‘Water for Good’ plan, will cost A$1.83 billion and the plant will deliver up to 100 billion litres of water each year (100GL) – about half of Adelaide’s annual water supply!

Safety commended
O’Donnell Griffin is responsible for all the electrical installation associated with the process works. “We are installing the cabling and cabling management systems for the motors, the controls and all the main switchboards,” says Richard Lane,
SA State Manager. This process-related electrical work includes installation of:

• Plant-wide HV / LV Reticulation;
• HV / LV Switchgear;
• Cable Management Systems; and
• Process Power and Control Cabling.

As might be expected with a project that involves spending such a large amount of government dollars, the project has received a lot of local media attention and has been somewhat politically sensitive.

Richard says that Adelaide Aqua has been very pleased with O’Donnell Griffin’s performance, particularly with respect to occupational health and safety (OHS). Adelaide Aqua holds a monthly safety breakfast which key supplier groups attend, and O’Donnell Griffin were afforded the rare opportunity of presenting at one of the breakfasts. “Subcontractors have rarely been asked to present, but because we demonstrated strong OHS management, we were invited to lead a session,” Richard says.

Rick Cassab, Construction Director for Adelaide Aqua, paid tribute to O’Donnell Griffin’s safety performance on the project. “A multi-disciplined project such as the desalination plant brings with it the challenge of blending different construction cultures in an accelerated and congested environment.”

“O’Donnell Griffin has been a key subcontractor in developing the OHS culture on this project and actively participating in the Safety Improvement Program.”

As well as coordinating many different sub-contractors, some of the key OHS issues on the project were its sensitive environmental location; erosion and sediment control; work in confined spaces; and work at heights.

“As a head contractor, we always want to align with subcontractors who believe in improving OHS cultures,” adds Rick. “From the outset, it was evident that O’Donnell Griffin took safety seriously and lived by their principles. The company brings a mature, professional approach to OHS. They have the highly skilled and trained workforce required to deliver.”

The desalination plant will be completed in December 2012.

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