Historical pub at Marree
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SA Water has commenced construction on a desalination plant at Marree, South Australia, bringing a new desalinated drinking water supply another step closer to the community.

Following months of design, planning and approvals, the project’s major construction partner – John Holland–Guidera O’Connor joint venture – has commenced on-ground concreting and earthworks at the site on Fourth Street, ahead of the containerised desalination plant’s arrival in coming months.

Marree is one of three outback towns receiving upgrades to their SA Water drinking supply in the utility’s current four-year regulatory period, with construction of similar desalination plants at Oodnadatta and Marla also in progress.

SA Water’s Senior Manager Infrastructure, Planning and Strategy, Dr Daniel Hoefel, said Marree’s plant will have capacity to supply up to 126,000 litres of safe, clean drinking water each day.

“Similar to our other desalination plants across South Australia, Marree’s new water treatment facility will use a process called reverse osmosis to remove the salt and impurities in the groundwater sourced from the Great Artesian Basin,” Dr Hoefel said.

“The end result is a clean, safe, and climate-independent source of tap water to be piped to local homes and businesses for use in their kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and gardens.

“Being fabricated in Adelaide, the plant is constructed inside a steel shipping container, designed to protect it from the harsh summer heat commonly experienced in remote areas.

“Our current focus of construction efforts is on building the on-site water storage tank and evaporation basin, with the plant itself to be delivered to Maree in 2023, ahead of a standard connection and testing process.

“Kicking off the on-ground works for a project of this size and scope is an important milestone, and we look forward to delivering Marree’s new tap water supply by early 2024,” Dr Hoefel said.

SA Water’s existing water network in Marree is designated as non-drinking, with appropriate precautions and advice in place, and until upgrades are complete, residents will continue to source their own drinking water from private rainwater tanks, water carting, bottled products and localised desalination units.

Assistant Editor, Utility magazine

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