The Victorian Desalination Project

The Desalination Plant

Located in Wonthaggi, the VDP comprises:

  • The desalination plant – comprising  29 buildings including the reverse osmosis building, the heart of the VDP - with a production capacity of 150 billion litres of water a year, flexible water ordering of between 0 and 150 billion litres, and the capability to expand to 200 billion litres a year
  • Marine structures: two underground tunnels located 15 metres below the seabed measuring 1.2 km and 1.5 km long and each with a 4 metre internal diameter, and associated marine intake and outlet structures located more than 20 metres below the sea’s surface
  • Water transfer pipeline: 84 km, 1.9 metre diameter, two-way pipeline that provides desalinated water or catchment supplies to communities throughout Melbourne, South Gippsland and Westernport, as required;
  1. Emergency Access Roads

    Mouth of Powlett Road will remain an emergency access road for local residents.

  2. Energy Efficient Design

    As well as its compact, modular design, the plant will use world-leading energy recovery devices in the reverse osmosis process to significantly reduce power consumption.

  3. Building Height

    The plant site will be lowered to provide the best operational outcome and lowest energy use. The highest point of the main building will be 20 metres high but will be barely visible from surrounding areas, screened by constructed dunes.

  4. Constructed Dune System

    Dunes will be constructed to integrate the plant with the natural landscape and provide visual and acoustic protection to neighbours nearby.

  5. Maintaining Beach Access

    Williamsons Beach will remain open and available for public enjoyment throughout the life of the project. During construction a small exclusion zone will apply around the offshore equipment used to construct marine tunnels, in order to protect the safety of the marine crew and the public enjoying the water. This will not affect beach activities.

  6. Innovative Living Roof

    A ‘living roof’, completely covered with living indigenous ground covers, tussocks and low shrubs will help blend the plant into the natural landscape, provide acoustic protection, corrosion resistance, thermal control and reduced maintenance.

  7. Water Storage Ponds

    Water storage ponds with a capacity of 1000 cubic metres will capture run off from the living roof and administration buildings for irrigation onsite.

  8. Indigenous Vegetation Reinstated

    More than 3.5 million plants and 150,000 trees will be used to reinstate indigenous vegetation cleared over the years to make way for mining and grazing.

Plant Design

The plant’s design aims to minimise any adverse impacts on landscape, cultural heritage, fauna and flora, or local communities.

Its land-based components are integrated into the landscape, thereby reducing the amount of energy needed to lift the seawater to the plant. The highest point of the main buildings is 20 metres above sea level, barely visible from surrounding areas.

Explore the site using the map or take a look at The Design fact sheet for more information.

Marine structures and tunnels have been carefully designed and located to minimise impacts and ensure the optimal performance of the plant.

For more information on the marine infrastructure view the Marine Structures & Underground Tunnels fact sheet.

The Desalination Process

The Victorian Desalination Plant uses reverse osmosis (membrane based) desalination technology to turn seawater into freshwater. There are several steps to this process.

Firstly, seawater is drawn in from an underground and undersea tunnel.

Fine particles are then removed during an initial screening and subsequent filtration process before the water passes through the reverse osmosis membrane.

The Desalination Process fact sheet  provides a detailed overview.

Once converted, the water from the desalination plant is treated to Australian drinking water standards.  See the Water Treatment Processes fact sheet for further details.

  1. Seawater Lift Pump Station Seawater Lift Pump Station
    Seawater Lift Pump Station

    Seawater Lift Pump Station

    Transfers seawater to the pump station via intake structures located on the seabed.

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  2. Screen & Feed Pump Station Screen & Feed Pump Station
    Screen & Feed Pump Station

    Screen & Feed Pump Station

    Houses screen filters that remove large particles from seawater.

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  3. Pretreatment DMPF Pretreatment DMPF
    Pretreatment DMPF

    DMPF & Backwash Treatment

    Houses Dual Media Pressure Filters (DMPF) to remove fine particles from seawater.


    Collects backwash from the DMPFs and pumps it through to the Backwash Treatment Building.


    Treats and stores backwash from the DMPF process before it is pumped to the Solids Treatment Building.

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  4. Reverse Osmosis Building Reverse Osmosis Building
    Reverse Osmosis Building

    Reverse Osmosis Building

    Water passes through two stages of reverse osmosis where minerals and salts are removed.

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  5. Chemical Buildings Chemical Buildings
    Chemical Buildings

    Chemical Buildings

    House chemicals like fluoride and carbon dioxide used to potabilise the desalinated water.

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  6. Solids Treatment Building Solids Treatment Building
    Solids Treatment Building

    Solids Treatment Building

    Settlement and centrifuge process used to dewater the backwash waste prior to transfer offsite.

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  7. Potabilisation System Potabilisation System
    Potabilisation System

    Potabilisation System

    Point for mixing of chemicals to produce safe drinking water.

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  8. Transfer Pump Station and Surge Vessels Transfer Pump Station and Surge Vessels
    Transfer Pump Station and Surge Vessels

    Transfer Pump Station and Surge Vessels

    Pumps potable water into the transfer pipeline.

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