The protests regarding the Sydney desalination plant have died down as the project is well and truly under way and seems unstoppable. There are only so many issue frustrated NSW residents can be worked up about at once. However, I was alerted to an article on the BBC regarding a new desalination plant opening in Barcelona. The quoted cost seemed low - 230 million Euro - almost exactly 400 million Aussie dollars at today's exchange rate. A quick check of Wikipedia reveals that the Sydney plant's estimated costs (and we now how they tend to end up) are already at 1.8 billion dollars. The proposed Sydney plant will generate 250 Mega-litres per day of desalinated water, compared to Barcelona's 200 ML/day.
Crude maths suggests a capital cost to build a plant that generates a litre of day of desalinated water to be $7.20 in Sydney versus $2 in Barcelona. I'm sure there are factors I've missed (pipe length, property costs etc) but it's hard to see how such a difference can be explained.
While researching Inner West light rail for my recent post, I came across the excellent Eco Transit website. An informative article by Gavin Gatenby (much better researched than this back of the envelope effort) exposed the project cost differentials between rail projects in WA and NSW. Interestingly enough there was a factor of greater than 3 there as well. Are we seeing some of the same effect here ? Anyone know any more ? I'm surprised more people aren't protesting the rail estimates as the NSW public are really suffering as a result.