SA Water has completed water infrastructure upgrades at Watinuma in the state’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands and has now begun works west in Murputja region, with both projects aimed at improving safety and reliability of drinking water to local communities.


Image: SA Water upgrades APY Lands water facilities. Photo: Courtesy of bella67/Pixabay

In late 2017, the state-wide utility took on management of water services in an additional three Aboriginal communities in the region – 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,” Anna said.

“It’s not that simple in the Lands, so we’re making sure the water systems here are durable and sustainable. This ties in with one of the focuses of our Reconciliation Action Plan – to support Aboriginal communities with innovative solutions to provide safe, clean water.

“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 10 kilowatt (kW) solar and battery and storage facility to provide back-up 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 12 kilometres 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 24 kW 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.”

SA Water’s infrastructure projects in the APY Lands are very much community-driven, with its Remote Communities team working with local people right through the engagement, planning, design and construction phases, as well as for ongoing management and maintenance.

“Building relationships between the communities and our team is fundamental to ensuring our water infrastructure works for the area and meets the needs of the people it’s serving,” Anna said.

“Water is essential for drinking and maintaining public health, but it’s also vital for sustaining opportunities for growth and development of the communities it’s supplied to.”

Since 2005, SA Water has been involved in the management of water supplies and wastewater disposal systems in nine APY Lands communities – 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.

Source: Company Press Release