Power and Water has announced it is working with a remote community in the Northern Territory with depleting groundwater to secure a long term supply of drinking water.
The community in Central Australia, Yuelamu, is about 280km northwest of Alice Springs, is one of 16 Very High Risk water stressed communities in the Northern Territory.
Yuelamu has relied entirely on a small aquifer source for water, through two production bores, since 2016.
Power and Water has recently identified the groundwater that supplies Yuelamu is reaching a critically low level. This is likely to impact the ability to continue to deliver reticulated water to the community.
A dual reticulation system delivers the community with a non-potable and potable water supply, with the potable water first processed through an advanced water treatment plant before being delivered to homes.
The community uses water efficiently and Power and Water regularly engages with residents on further managing their water demand, including education programs in the school to support children and families to better understand their water supply, and to identify and address issues such as leaks and high rates of consumption.
As an immediate measure, Power and Water is using smart water meters for real time analysis of water use in the community, both in the network and within individual properties.
This data supports faster response times to identify and fix leaks to reduce water waste quickly.
Further detailed hydrogeological work is underway to gather more information on the extent of the depletion of the ground water and planning is underway to identify a secure and safe water source in the short, medium and longer term.
Other measures being assessed include viable options to extend the life of the current groundwater supply, the ability to access nearby non-Power and Water bores in the short to medium term and technical assessments of treatment options for the Yuelamu dam.
The Yuelamu dam was deemed unsafe for drinking when last assessed, due to an outbreak of toxic blue-green algae in 2016.
In the meantime, it is expected water tankers will be used to supplement the community’s water supply.
Specialists from Power and Water’s Demand Management and Water Services teams will continue to work closely with the community as a long term solution is identified.