Desalination

Part of our resilient water supply

Desalination is one of the ways we can step up to meet water demand when we’re faced with prolonged drought, as it doesn't rely on rainfall. Most states have at least one large desalination plant. The Sydney Desalination Plant is part of the NSW Government’s plan to ensure a secure and affordable water supply system for Greater Sydney.

Sydney Desalination Plant is currently operating

We've kept the desalination plant operating due to extreme weather events. It will be kept in standby operation to reduce pressure on our treatment plants and network, and enable us to respond to future extreme events. This ensures we continue to deliver high-quality drinking water for Greater Sydney. While the plant is operating, we can adjust the capacity based on our system's needs.

Running the plant for the 12 months up to March 2022 cost the average household $13.61 a year. This is reflected in the 2022–23 water service charges.

We’ll keep you informed of any changes.

We supply desalinated water to up to 1.5 million people across Greater Sydney.

Key facts about desalinated water

If you live or work in an area that can be supplied by desalinated water, you may receive water from dams, the desalination plant, or a combination of both.

The plant produces drinking water that meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. You can find out about the quality of the water we supply to your property in our daily drinking water quality report.

As outlined in the Metropolitan Water Plan, Sydney Desalination Plant is turned on when Sydney’s total dam storage falls below 60%. At full capacity, the plant can provide up to 15% of Sydney’s total water use. It can supply about 1.5 million people with an average of 250 million litres a day.

The desalination plant takes seawater from about 300 metres offshore and 25 metres below the surface. It uses reverse osmosis to turn seawater into drinking water.

Sydney Desalination Plant at Kurnell is privately owned and operated.