Victorian Desalination Project: Challenges

Subject: Tech & Engineering
Pages: 12
Words: 3033
Reading time:
12 min
Study level: College


It is quite crucial for any person, government, or body that is planning to implement a project to be thorough when it comes to taking into account the requirements and the risks that are associated with such an endeavour. Any project demands many things to be in place before it kicks on. These include financial matters, human resource, project management expertise, project quality control team, and project monitoring and evaluation body, just to mention but a few. The body steering such a project needs to have the goals and objectives of the project set besides considering the demands of the project’s target group or area in terms of the implications associated with the project. While many projects have been implemented, with some going successfully as others fail due to improper planning, the paper uses the Victorian desalination project as a case example. The project under scrutiny is currently ongoing. The paper will present all the aforementioned considerations that need to be factored in before the actual starting of the project implementation. As it will be revealed, the Victorian desalination project is so far one of the most challenging projects ever to be implemented. A lot of keenness has been done to take it the far it has gone. Though still in progress, there is inexplicable hope, based on the implementation trend, report, and feedback from people that the project is on track and will be successfully completed.

Overview of the Victorian Desalination water plant

Project management is the control and supervision of work to ensure successful completion of a project’s vision. This process requires close monitoring and controlling of various projects or tasks to propel the implementation and completion of the project within the stipulated time and budget. The Victoria Desalination water plant project is one of the largest projects in Australia. The plant is located in outskirts of Wonthaggi town on the coast of Bass. The plant is expected to supply an approximate of 150 billion litres of water in various towns including Geelong, south Gippsland, Melbourne, and Westernport (Victoria Desalination Project 2011, Para. 3). The aim of the project is to supply clean water to the residences in these towns.

Overview of the Victorian Desalination water plant
Source: (Victoria Desalination Project 2011).

Knowledge Areas

Project Integration Management

Project integration requires managers to have a clear vision of what they want to do to ensure the success of the project (The PMBOK Guide 2010, p. 17). Once the project commences, it requires integrations of various work components through monitoring and control (Turner 2000, p. 6). Changes may occur during the implementation. This has to be taken into account if the expected accomplishment of the project is the goal of the management department. The management of the project created a project charter, project scope statement, and a viable project plan that ensured that all resources were provided. This was after the government announced the construction of a desalination plant as one of its water plan on 19 June 2007(AquaSure 2012, Para. 6). A feasibility study had been carried in 2006 prior to the government’s announcement. The Department of Sustainability and Environment of Australia found the location appropriate and approved it after a report on environmental effects was conducted. Before construction began on 30 September 2009, the companies, which were awarded contracts, came up with the project‘s scope and a charter that provided the issues affecting the project (AquaSure 2012, Para. 3).

The Victorian Desalination Plant Strategic Location.
The Victorian Desalination Plant Strategic Location. Source: (Victoria Desalination Project 2011)

Project Scope Management

This area deals with planning, protection, creation, and ensuring the fulfillment of the project’s scope (The PMBOK Guide 2010, p. 17). This stage is very important as all aspects of management of a project happen at this level. Breakdown of work structure is done to determine how various tasks are going to be carried out. In the Australian Victorian desalination project, the construction companies had to plan on various issues relating to time allocated for the completion of the project, resources available and the human capital. The budget estimate assigned for this project was 3 billion US dollars. The project operation period is 27.5 years (AquaSure 2012, Para. 4). In planning, the management had to plan for unexpected events or assumptions that could have affected the project’s progress. Contracted companies performed certain tasks according to the planned work based on structures. The project is carried out by the department of environmental and sustainability in conjunction with AquaSuare as the financier of the project. The company designed the project, and was responsible for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the plant after its completion. Various tasks were assigned to different subsidiary companies of AquaSure specialising in different areas such as Degremont, which specialises in reverse-osmosis desalination technology, Macquarie Capital, which specialises in financial advisory services, and Thiess, which is a known and trusted company for construction and service duties (AquaSure 2012, para. 5).

Project Time Management

Every project must have a timeline to guarantee success. Various activities are covered in a project. All these activities need to be allocated time to ensure success (The PMBOK Guide 2010, p. 17). The project manager and the team plotted the order or the sequence in which activities were to be executed. They also calculated the amount of time that every activity was to take to ensure proper time utilisation. The duration of completion of the Victoria Desalination project is expected to take 27.5 years. However, the project is expected to begin serving the citizens by the end of this year. It began in late 2006 with a feasibility study being carried out by the government. It was announced by the government in 2007, which set the center stage for its implementation.

Project Cost Management

In many projects, cost is always a constraint. Managers are required to plan for the budget estimates that the project will have to cost (Hornstein 2012, p. 24). It is also salient that they improvise strategies to ensure proper control of the cost of undertaking the project. This knowledge in financial management is pertinent in ensuring a successful completion of any project of this nature. The project is estimated to cost the financier 3 billion US dollars, a very high amount that should be well managed to ensure that is sustains the entire project. The Victorian desalination company recruited the services of Macquaries Capital, which provides advice on infrastructural management and issues with financial management (AquaSure 2012, Para. 5). The cost of the project is closely linked to time and quality of work. The time allocated and the quality of the project should not be compromised since the funds allocated are enough to complete the expected quality project.

Project Quality Management

There is no need of doing a messy job in a bid to complete a project within the stipulated period (Project Management Institute 2009, p. 19). Quality in a project is paramount, as it measures whether the project was successful or not. For a project to be of high quality, it requires quality planning and assurance, as well as control. The Victorian desalination company is progressing on well. So far, it has been verified and satisfied as doing well in meeting the standards. The companies contracted are verified. They have met the threshold.

Project Human Resource Management

The Victorian desalination project requires employees with varied skills. The project involves the services of construction engineers, financial, managers, and procurement officers among many others such as technical staffs with no special training in the construction. Every staff is important in the project. Without the integration of their skills, the project may not have reached the far it has gone. According to The PMBOK Guide (2010), for a project to be successful, a project manager and team should be trained on various issues concerning projects (p. 17). Even though they possess different training, all staff members went through a special training concerning the management of the project to ensure that they have similar vision of achieving the goals and the objectives set.

Project Communication Management

In all kinds of projects, communication is vital and mandatory (Evaristo & Paul 1999, p. 275). There is no way a project can proceed on, and be completed without efficient and effective communication (The PMBOK Guide 2010, p. 17). In the Victorian desalination project, a communication plan was used in ensuring that all the stakeholders were updated on the progress of the project. For instance, communication between the managers or the supervisors and the workers ensured a smooth implementation of the project. There was an established positive relationship between the workers and the managers hence promoting successful completion of the project. Communication was also vital between the government and the community in breaching or solving a conflict that had ensued due to the introduction or announcement that the project was to be set in its locality. Therefore, communication played a very vital role in reaching consensus besides ensuring that the project faired on smoothly.

Project Risk Management

Most, if not all, projects are risky. Managers need to be aware of this to undertake initiatives to counter or reduce such risks (McManus & Wood-Harper 2002, p. 23). Therefore, they are required to plan for the risks, analyse, monitor, and control them in the project when or before they happen. In analysing the risks, qualitative and quantitative risk assessment is used to determine any inherent risks in the project. When the project commences, managers are required to monitor the progress of the projects to institute control measures for the project to proceed to its completion (Engwall & Jerbrant 2003, p. 403). In the Victorian desalination project, various risks were inherent. One of the risks was management squabbles that could result to a stall of the project. This was factored in to ensure that management was well established to ensure that the project was properly implemented and taken to its completion. Other risks included mismanagement of funds by some of the employees among others.

Project Procurement Management

For a project to be successful, it requires materials and other services. It is impossible to carry out a project without sourcing of materials and service (The PMBOK Guide 2010, p. 17). Therefore, skills and knowledge in procurement management become important for managers to ensure sourcing of equipment. The Victorian desalination project used the services of vendors and subcontractors to keep the project ongoing. The procurement department had to come up with a plan and a strategy of acquiring materials that were important in ensuring the progress of the project. For instance, the procurement management ensured that necessary building/construction materials were transported to the construction site. The procurement manager handled all logistics issues successfully. Among the companies awarded contracts for the construction of the company was Auform Pty Ltd. The company was awarded a contract worth 7 million US dollars, which increased to 20 million US dollars (Industrial Capability Network. 2011, Para. 2). The company supplied structural concretes to the site. The procurement department performed the duty of assigning the contracts. Other local companies contracted to supply materials for the construction of the plant include Tyco water, Fytogreen, Ortech industries, and Olex among many others (Industrial Capability Network 2011, para. 2).

Phases of Project Management

Successful completion of projects requires the project to accomplish or satisfy various vital phases (Kotter 1990, p. 103). These include initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. These phases are associated with the knowledge areas of a project.

Project Conception and Initiation

The idea of initiating this project was critically analysed before its implementation (The PMBOK Guide 2010, p. 17). The government of Australia saw the need of providing or constructing a plant that would help to solve the problem of water shortage in towns. This was the underlying reason for setting up the project. The project was also important to the government because it was a source of revenue. It was also a viable project because it was going to support the life of many people for the whole year. During dry seasons, residents could also access clean water. Therefore, these benefits compelled the government to commit itself to setting up the plant to ensure availability of water. Even though the project had some setbacks or challenges such as resistance from community due to fear of loss of land and environmental implications, measures were undertaken leading to amicable solutions. The decision-making team carried out their studies and investigations and found out that indeed the project was viable and was possible to be carried out because all the resources were available. The formula that was reached in selecting the project relied on the ever-increasing demand of access to clean water. Government therefore prioritised this project and forfeited other projects because of its importance in ensuring that residents in towns accessed clean water (Kerzner 2002, p. 6).

The scope of the project was defined. The location of the project was identified, as well as the time and the cost of carrying it out. Therefore, this contributed to its successful implementation. The project’s committee also documented some of the project’s skills such as managerial wrangles. Assumptions and some constraints were also considered at the initial stage of the project. Stakeholder analysis was also factored in (Gareis & Huemann 2008, p. 771). In this project, the stakeholders included the government, the construction companies, the community members, and the town’s residents. For instance, the government had to consider environmental impacts of the project before approving it. Furthermore, they had to solve any misunderstanding between the government and the community members who viewed the project as a threat to their survival in terms of environmental implications. Various stakeholders received the developed and presented project charter for approval in a bid to allow the project to move to the planning stage.

Project Planning

In project planning, the project manager plans for the available resources, the time allocated and the mechanism to be used to achieve the set objectives (Gareis 2010, p. 314). The project manager in the Victorian Desalination project first defined and recorded all the requirements, assumptions, and constraints associated with the project. This was important in ensuring that the manager was aware of the requirements of the project (Killen, Kam, Drouin & Petit 2012, p. 525). They identified the project team and defined their responsibilities. For instance, the manager came up with the total number of employees, their skills and expertise, and their roles. This was important to ensure that skilled people performed the various roles. A work breakdown structure was also created to ensure that a certain company or individuals carried out every task. Furthermore, a change management plan was also prepared to help the employees manage any changes that could have occurred during the progress of the project. Risk strategies were also identified. A plan was approved after which a meeting was convened to kick-start the project.

Project Execution

This is the implementation of the plans as drafted or as approved. Various tasks in the plan are executed (Kerzner & Saladis 2009, p. 19). In the execution, the managers of the Victorian desalination project ensured a common understanding of what was expected by employees and set the expectations that were to be achieved. The procurement department was also instructed to kick-start its process of sourcing materials (Perrin 2008, p. 54). Resources were well managed by the procurement department. Quality management plan was also set up to ensure that they controlled and monitored the project. These changes i.e. workarounds and actions were approved in order to improve the performance of the team assembled to complete the project.

Project Monitoring and Control

The project is being monitored to ensure that it complies with the set objectives or plan (PennState University 2012, Para. 2). Monitoring helps the managers to measure the performance of the project whether it is fairing on as required or not. It is a way of verifying and managing changes in a bid to ensure that the project’s progress is on and not off track. This aims at ensuring that all activities and any challenges are handled in the project management to ensure that the entire project’s deliverables conform to the quality standards and the set goals. Monitoring is also very vital in identifying and controlling the probable risks to avoid causing negative effects to the smooth progress of the project.

Closing of the Project

Even though the project is not yet over, the first phase is expected to be complete later this year (Patanakul, Shenhar & Milosevic 2012, p. 391). The project will however be in operation until 2045, but residents will continue using the water. Upon its completion, the project manager will have to obtain a final acceptance for the project, legal, administrative, and financial closure. They will also require releasing all resources used in the project. The project manager and project team will also document all the issues that they encountered during the project to use them in other projects where applicable (Lehmann 2010, p. 328). A final report on the project will also be presented and a copy kept for future reference. Other things that can be done include measuring whether the stakeholders are satisfied with the project or not to see whether it achieved its objectives.


The Victorian desalination project is one of the projects that have been recognised as long-term endeavours. The project, as evidenced in the paper, has taken many governments resources for it to reach the far it has gone. Though one of the challenges, reports from credible sources indicate that the project is following the right track and will be finalised successfully if the current inputs are maintained. Various project management processes have played a vital role in ensuring that the project achieves its objectives even though the project is yet to be completed. For the project to be successfully completed, project managers should have the knowledge on how to deal with issues concerning projects. This knowledge guarantees the success in all stages of project management. The project managers and team that undertook the Victorian Desalination project applied the following concepts in ensuring that the project is successful. It stands out as one of the projects that are expected to be successful due to the application of good project management skills and expertise.


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