The Challenge

In 2006, south-east Queensland was experiencing its worst water shortage in over 100 years, with over 60% of the area in drought.

The combination of climate change impacts, well below average rainfall for the previous six years, and significant population growth, meant that the Queensland Government was looking for a reliable, long term water supply.

The Government announced the South East Queensland Regional Water Strategy which included the A$9 billion Water Grid. This grid enables water to be transported from surplus areas to those in shortage. The Gold Coast Desalination Plant is a climate-independent source of water that ensures South East Queensland’s water security in time of drought and extreme weather.

Veolia’s solution

Veolia, in an alliance with John Holland, SKM and Cardno, was awarded the contract in November 2006 to deliver this plant. The alliance designed, constructed and commissioned the plant to achieve first water by November 2008 and commenced supply on 26 February 2009. Veolia now has sole responsibility for operating and maintaining the plant for a 10 year term, with the option for a further five years.

The plant is able to provide an average of 125 megalitres per day of water to the network which is enough drinking water for more than 650,000 people.

Throughout 2010, heavy rainfall filled the region’s dams to full capacity. In January 2011 significant flooding occurred in south-east Queensland. During this time the South East Queensland (SEQ) Water Grid (which includes both the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme and the Gold Coast Desalination Plant both operated by Veolia Water) was able to supply to more than 95 per cent of the affected region without interruption or degradation to quality, according to a study undertaken by the SEQ Water Grid Manager.

In mid-2011, the Queensland Government placed the plant into hot standby mode – with capability to return to full production within 72 hours if needed to maintain water supply or quality across the Water Grid. The plant will return to full production if the region’s combined dam capacity drops to 60 per cent. 


45GL/year of drinking water to SEQ

Capable of providing water to more than 650,000 people

2009 Global Water Award winner