The township of Adelaide River is found on the Stuart Highway 110km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory. With an approximate population of 250 people, the town provides a warm welcome for many travellers, but when tourists turned on the tap, the welcome was a little tainted.

Adelaide River’s drinking water is drawn from a series of bores that contain elevated and variable concentrations of iron and manganese, causing the water to be discoloured and have an unpleasant taste.

In July 2015, alongside Power and Water Corporation in the Northern Territory, SUEZ and joint venture partner Goodline commissioned a new $6 million biological filtration plant to address the issue, and provide locals and travellers with clean and clear water.

“The objectives of the project were to ensure the supply of safe drinking water complying with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and to address the persistent aesthetic problems experienced by the local community,” said Tom Burns, General Manager of Design and Build at SUEZ.

Bringing together a team of in-house experts with years of operational experience, and partnering with a local expert constructor to design and build the plant, the new process was quite simple in nature.

The upgrade consisted of a two-stage process applying advanced biological technology to remove the compounds in a cost-effective way. The proposed solution was a first in Australia and removed the need for complex chemical systems.

Two pressurised filters were inserted in the existing water line, located between the bore pumps network and a series of disinfection and clear water storage tanks. Additional equipment such as backwash pumps were also installed, providing a fully-automated operation.

SUEZ’s biological technologies, FerazurTM and MangazurTM were installed at the Adelaide River Water Treatment Plant to remove the iron and manganese.

Iron and manganese can be removed by two different types of bacteria which are naturally present in groundwater; each of them require a different environment for the best performance. A process consisting of two successive biological iron and manganese removal filters were installed for the most effective operation.

In order to guarantee water quality from the plant through to customers’ taps, the township’s entire downstream water distribution systems were also cleaned with an innovative ice pigging process.

Ice pigging iARTP_1435s a global SUEZ solution which uses the naturally abrasive properties of ice to remove biofilm and sediment. More than 8km of mains pipes were cleaned with 440kg of suspended soils removed.

Mr Burns said Power and Water had been receiving a regular stream of complaints relating to the discoloured water since 2006.

“Since the commissioning of the WTP, positive feedback has been received from the community regarding the water quality and complaints have been reduced to zero,” he said.

After the first 12 months of operation, the plant continues to meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Eric Vanweydeveld, Senior Project Manager at Power and Water, said the collaborative approach between SUEZ and Power and Water led to lower costs, better value for money and a high-quality treatment facility.

“SUEZ’s project team maintained a cooperative and positive relationship with Power and Water and demonstrated significant technical competence in terms of water treatment, risk management, constructability and commissioning.

“SUEZ’s project team successfully managed the planning, execution, and closing of the project ensuring that the key issues of safety, cost, time, quality and client satisfaction have been realised,” said Mr Vanweydeveld.

“It’s a huge step forward for Adelaide River to really bring their drinking water in line with everywhere else in Australia, to make water out of the tap look like it should,” said the then Primary Industries and Deputy Chief Minister of Northern Territory at the plant’s opening in December 2015.

This partner content is brought to you by SUEZ. For more information, visit

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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