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Remote SA town's new desalination plant

The Aboriginal community of Yalata, located near the Great Australian Bight in western South Australia, will benefit from a new and improved desalination plant, providing a reliable and safe potable water supply for the community.

SA Water’s $2.3 million project will replace the existing facility, which is nearing the end of its asset life, and will use solar power to produce 160 kilolitres per day. The new plant is expected to be operational within the next month.

SA Water Water Expertise and Research Senior Manager Dr Daniel Hoefel said the new Yalata plant is one of eight remote desalination facilities operated by the utility, many of which run on renewable energy.

“Whether at Yalata, Yankalilla or Yorketown, we aim to manage all our water and wastewater infrastructure in a sustainable and innovative way,” Hoefel said.

“Like the existing facility, the new Yalata plant will be powered by a 40-kilowatt solar array with back-up battery storage, helping to reduce operational costs and our environmental footprint.”

In addition to being powered by solar energy, Hoefel said the new plant at Yalata will also use state-of-the-art remote monitoring and water treatment strategies to ensure reliable water service provision.

“It will also be fitted with a computer system, which can be remotely monitored and controlled, meaning any faults or maintenance requirements can be identified early and repairs actioned as soon as possible,” he said.

“Additionally, like its other inland counterparts, the Yalata plant uses a technology called reverse osmosis to remove naturally occurring impurities, like high levels of salinity, which are found in many of Australia’s inland groundwater sources.”

Helping to deliver the roadhouse pipeline component of the project, which involves replacing 3.8 kilometres of dual-connecting pipework, is Ceduna-based business Wilkinson Plumbing and its civil subcontractor, Far West Hire from Nundroo.

“One of the key drivers of our procurement processes is to work with local contractors and suppliers, which supports jobs and employs local knowledge to make sure the infrastructure is fit for purpose,” Hoefel said.

“Water is essential for drinking and maintaining public health, but it’s also vital for supporting economic and social outcomes, and through construction and operation, the Yalata Desalination Plant delivers both, achieving several key goals of our stretch Reconciliation Action Plan for 2020-23.”

SA Water manages water supplies or wastewater disposal systems in 13 Aboriginal communities and government facilities in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, as well as nine other communities in various remote areas of the state, including Yalata.