Why are there additional costs?
Our prices are set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a 4-year period. In 2020 when our prices were set, the Sydney Desalination Plant (SDP) was not operating and so the costs associated were not included in the base water service charges. Instead, a provision was made for Sydney Water to recover costs the following financial year if water from the SDP was needed.
The plant was initially turned on as part of the Metropolitan Water Plan when dams in Greater Sydney dropped below 70%. Although dam levels have risen and Greater Sydney is no longer in drought, the SDP has continued to supplement Sydney’s rainfall-dependent supply. This has reduced pressure on our water filtration plants and network through various weather events and enables us to respond to Greater Sydney's water demand.
From July 2023, the Greater Sydney Water Strategy (successor to the Metropolitan Water Plan) states the rules for operating the SDP should optimise its contribution to water supply security and drought management. Put simply, the SDP will be a permanent water source for Greater Sydney going forward. The costs associated will be built into future pricing proposals.