Murputja desalination plant
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Nyapari and Murputja in the South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands are the latest communities in the far north region of South Australia to be connected to SA Water’s drinking water network, as works continue to improve the safety and reliability of local water supplies.

Construction of a new state-of-the-art desalination plant in Murputja is now treating water sourced from local bores, before it’s piped through a total of 12km of pipeline into homes and businesses in the two communities.

By around mid-2020, the infrastructure will also be supplying safe, clean water to nearby Kanpi.

SA Water’s General Manager of Customers, Strategy and Innovation, Anna Jackson, said what this 60KL capacity desalination plant lacks in size compared to its metropolitan counterparts, it makes up for in ingenuity.

“Getting water from one point to another may sound simple, but when you add in challenges like a consistently warm climate and reliance on small-scale local electricity generation, you need some innovative engineering expertise and creative thinking,” Ms Jackson said.

“Our Murputja facility is powered by a 24KW solar array with battery storage and fitted with a computer system which can be remotely monitored and controlled.

“The use of renewable energy is more sustainable and helps to reduce our costs and environmental footprint, and the option to remotely monitor our equipment means any faults can be identified early and repairs actioned as soon as possible.

“A good relationship with the local communities we serve is also vital to keeping our water systems going and ensuring our customers’ needs are met, and we’ll continue involving and informing local residents on our Murputja project as work progresses.”

SA Water took on management of water services in Kanpi, Murputja and Nyapari, as well as Watinuma, in late 2017, and has been working with contract partners to ensure water supplies across the wider region are consistent.

“Our Murputja facility uses desalination technology called reverse osmosis and this removes naturally-occurring impurities from the local bore water including high levels of salinity which are found in many of Australia’s inland groundwater sources,” Ms Jackson said.

“In addition to construction of new infrastructure, our team has also set up a routine water quality monitoring program, which involves both sampling in the field and scientific testing back in our Adelaide and Marla laboratories. This makes sure the water meets all relevant health and drinking water guidelines.”

Upgrades underway in Murputja follow work completed in Watinuma around 12 months ago, which involved replacing water storage, treatment and distribution infrastructure, upgrading two bores – one solar and one electric – and installing smart meters to monitor water use, a new remotely monitored computer system and a 10kW solar and battery storage facility to provide back-up power.

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 53 bores (nine of which are solar-powered), five desalination plants and one wastewater treatment plant.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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