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The Murputja Desalination Plant is supplying a third Indigenous community in South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands with safe drinking water.

With Kanpi connecting to the local supply network, its community can now receive clean potable water.

The solar and battery-powered 60kL capacity Murputja Desalination Plant treats water sourced from local bores, before it is piped through a total of around 12km of pipeline into homes and businesses across the three local communities.

The neighbouring communities of Nyapari and Murputja were connected in late 2019, with the construction of additional pipework recently completed to bring the water to Kanpi. 

The installation of these remaining property connections and dual reticulation pipework in Kanpi is expected to be complete by the end of July 2020.

SA Water manages water supplies and/or wastewater disposal systems in 13 Aboriginal communities and government facilities in the APY Lands – Indulkana, Mimili, Kaltjiti (Fregon), Umuwa, Pukatja (Ernabella), Yunyarinyi (Kenmore Park), Amata, Pipalyatjara, Kalka, Kanpi, Nyapari, Murputja and Watinuma.

Included in these operations are 62 bores (15 of which are solar-powered), five desalination plants and one wastewater treatment plant.

SA Water’s General Manager of Customers, Strategy and Innovation, Anna Jackson, said crews from its contractor Fusco Constructions have had to work differently to continue the project over the past few months, due to various restrictions brought in to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into South Australia’s remote areas.

“The majority of Aboriginal communities we provide water and wastewater services have been declared designated areas under the Biosecurity Act 2015, meaning all travel to and work in these communities must meet strict requirements, with approval sought from the relevant local authority,” Ms Jackson said.

As an essential service, SA Water’s work was allowed to continue, but while on the ground, staff are ensuring they maintain strict hygiene and social distancing measures as best as they can, as well as not entering any communal areas within the communities.

“We know this is critical to the success of the protection measures and to give the communities confidence we’re doing what we can to safeguard their health,” Ms Jackson said.

“The remoteness of our infrastructure in the APY Lands means our crews and contractors already need to be flexible and self-sufficient in how we work, and that has really helped in meeting this new challenge.

“Just like in the city, by continuing with essential works like what’s underway in Kanpi, we’re not only keeping the water and wastewater services going, we’re also doing our part in supporting the economy, by keeping people in work.”

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