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Labor plans to use desal plant and north-south pipeline

The Andrews Labor Government’s plan to reverse the north-south pipeline and turn on the desal plant is more than a thought bubble, with a business case underway.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville have both recently talked-up the potential of reversing of the north-south pipeline to send water from Melbourne to the north of the state.

Under Labor’s plan, water taken from the Melbourne system would be replaced with desalinated water, which costs around $5000 per megalitre to produce.

When questioned in Parliament this week, Lisa Neville refused to say how much reversing the pipeline would cost or who would pay for the water if it did go ahead, but said a business case was being undertaken.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Water Minister Peter Walsh said the plan was nothing more than a cruel hoax on northern Victorian irrigators who were already struggling to afford up to $300 per megalitre on the temporary water market.

“It would be ridiculous to ask irrigators to pay $5000 per megalitre for water when they are already struggling with the current price,” Mr Walsh said.

“The average dairy farm would be paying around $4.5 million a year for water at that pricetag.

“Labor’s plan is nothing more than a cruel hoax and a desperate attempt to justify turning on the desal plant.”

The cost of desal water:

· The standby cost of the desal plant in 2015/16 is $620 million, with no water produced.

· To produce 150GL of water, the capacity of the plant, would cost an additional $117 million.

· The total cost of $737 million divided by 150GL (150,000ML) is $4913 per ML.