map of Western Australia with coastal area highlighted
Alternate and emerging options
regional coastal communities
Estimated cost
$3.15 million
Project status

The project is jointly funded by the Australian Government ($1.9 million) and the Western Australian Government ($1.25 million). Australian Government funding is provided through the National Water Grid Fund.

Aerial view of Cape Range National Park in Western Australia.

The project will explore a practical solution to address issues with current desalination technologies.

Project overview

The project is looking into subsurface intakes as a practical solution to water deficiencies faced by desalination technologies. When compared to current intake systems, subsurface intakes have the potential to:

  • minimise environmental impacts
  • decrease energy consumption
  • enhance overall sustainability.

The project will construct a demonstration-scale trial at the proposed Exmouth Seawater Desalination Plant site. This will be coupled with a small-scale plant in Exmouth. Each trial will be used to assess operational benefits and water quality over an extended period of time. Overarching benefits of this project includes: 

  • reduced chemical and pre-treatment requirements
  •  lower energy consumption
  • waste reduction
  • enhanced protection of the marine environment.

The success of the demonstration trial plant is expected to contribute to the confidence needed for similar systems elsewhere. If successful, it would support water security for regional, remote and First Nations communities, supporting industries and the successful operation of water and wastewater treatment technologies.

The assessment holds particular significance for seawater desalination plants situated in remote and First Nations communities, where operational challenges are pronounced.

The Western Australian Government is also contributing $650,000 through in-kind contributions*. 

*In-kind contributions are contributions of goods and services and do not contribute to the total project cost.

Key project benefits

First Nations access
Local community
Technology development
Water security