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The state’s top drop has been announced as part of the 2020 Water Industry Operators Association of Australia (WIOA) best tasting tap water competition.

The award went to water produced from SA Water’s Woolpunda Treatment Plant in the Riverland.

The annual event – which was held virtually, with an interstate judging panel announcing the results online – included more than half a dozen samples from water facilities across South Australia, which were assessed on colour, clarity, odour and ‘mouthfeel’.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Production and Treatment, Lisa Hannant, said water from the one-person operated Woolpunda facility also won the state heat in 2018, and victors from the past four years have all been from the Riverland or Murraylands region.

“The Swan Reach Water Treatment Plant won in 2019, and Morgan in 2017 and 2016, so you could say there’s something in the water!” Ms Hannant said.

“Compared to these facilities, Woolpunda is one of our smaller sites both in physical size and supply area, providing water to less than 800 people.

“But it works just as hard as any other site, getting around 700,000 litres of water a day through a network of more than 240km of pipe, including to Country Lands located up to 50km from the treatment plant.

“Water that goes through this system is treated with chloramine, which is a disinfection method particularly suited to very long networks with lower numbers of customer connections – meaning the water takes longer to get to properties, leading to a higher water age.

“More than 220,000 SA Water customers currently enjoy drinking water treated by chloramine. It has a less distinct smell and taste than our chlorinated supplies, and that’s why we think it does so well in blind taste tests.”

WIOA Chief Operations Officer, Craig Mathisen, said its annual competition aims to recognise and acknowledge individuals and organisations who are making sure to provide their communities with safe drinking water every day.

“2020 has been a tough year for everyone, and that includes our operators who have kept water and wastewater services going through drought, bushfires, heavy rainfall and a pandemic,” Mr Mathisen said.

“While we can’t all gather together in person to host this year’s tap water competition, we still felt it was important to go ahead with the event in some way, and we hope to be back in person again next year.”

SA Water samples entered into the competition were taken from water treatment plants at Penneshaw, Morgan, Berri, Woolpunda, Mount Pleasant, Kanmantoo and Happy Valley.

Woolpunda Water Treatment Plant has been producing water since 2009, and was built as part of SA Water’s Country Water Quality Improvement Program. It sources and treats raw water from the River Murray, before it’s delivered to towns including Wunkar and Mantung.

Woolpunda will compete for Australia’s best tasting tap water in late-2020.

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