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Quenching Melbourne’s Thirst

The first drinking water from the Wonthaggi desalination plant near Melbourne that will be Australia’s biggest has been produced during an initial performance test.

Production meeting the governments drinking water guidelines will be increased during commissioning over the next few months with the plant capable of full production by the end of the year, Thiess Degremont said in a statement.

Suez Environnement subsidiary Degremont won a 30-year government contract in 2009 to build and operate the desalination plant through a partnership with Aquasure that includes Thiess. When finalised, it will provide 30 percent of Melbourne’s water needs.

Suez, the second-largest water company, last month took a second impairment since October related to the development of the plant on rising costs, strikes and delays. The Paris-based utility was forced to scrap a planned increase in the 2011 dividend due to plant expenses.

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