SA Water has completed water infrastructure upgrades at Watinuma in the state’s remote north west and work have now begun further west in the Murputja region to improve the safety and reliability of drinking water to local communities.

In late 2017, the state-wide utility took on management of water services in an additional three Aboriginal communities in the APY Lands — Kanpi, Nyapari and Watinuma — as well as government facilities at Murputja.

SA Water’s General Manager of Customers, Strategy and Innovation, Anna Jackson, said supplying water to such a vast remote area brings unique challenges, so the teams and contractors working to maintain and upgrade the equipment have had to think outside the box.

“In Adelaide, we have access to multiple sources to derive drinking water from, and if something needs to be fixed, a crew is never far away,” Ms Jackson said.

“It’s not that simple in the Lands, so we’re making sure the water systems here are durable and sustainable.

“In Watinuma, we replaced water storage, treatment and distribution infrastructure, upgraded two bores — one solar and one electric — and installed smart meters to monitor water use, a new remotely monitored computer system, and a 10kW solar and battery and storage facility to provide backup power.

“The use of solar and battery not only helps reduce our costs and environmental footprint, but when needed, is a reliable alternative to conventional electricity supply, given the region’s usual warm climate and plentiful sunlight.

“A similarly significant amount of work is now underway in Murputja, with the main component a new water desalination treatment and storage plant, which will also supply drinking water to nearby Kanpi and Nyapari, through a soon to be installed 12km of pipeline.

“Our aim is to ensure supplies across the region are consistent and comply with relevant health and drinking water guidelines, and using a desalination technology called reverse osmosis will remove impurities from the local bore water.

“The facility will also be powered by a 24kW solar and battery system. Additionally, customer smart meters and a computer monitoring system will be fitted on site, similar to what’s already operational in Watinuma and other APY Lands communities we manage water supplies for.

“We expect to complete all upgrades in Murputja by around mid-2020.”

Since 2005, SA Water has been involved in the management of water supplies and wastewater disposal systems in nine of the state’s North West APY Lands communities including Indulkana, Mimili, Fregon, Umuwa, Ernabella (Pukatja), Kenmore Park, Amata, Pipalyatjara and Kalka.

Included in these operations are 53 bores (nine of which are solar powered), four state-of-the-art desalination plants, and one wastewater treatment plant.

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