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Recycled water creates an oasis in the outback

In the middle of the desert 1300 km northwest of Adelaide, a patch of bright green stands out among the red and brown landscape.

Amata Oval is in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, which are home to about 2300 people near the South Australia/Northern Territory border. The secret to its lush appearance is the recycled water it receives from SA Water’s nearby wastewater treatment plant.

The plant treats about 70,000 L of wastewater per day, which is delivered to the oval via an underground irrigation system.

SA Water Manager of Remote Communities Simon Wurst said the utility wanted to provide the community with a functional open space that could be maintained in a sustainable way.

“It’s a massive feat to have not only recycled water infrastructure in such an isolated location, but also green grass,” he said.

“We met this challenge through innovative solutions like special durable materials and remote monitoring and operation technology.

“Building relationships between the local community and our Remote Communities team has also been essential to ensuring the infrastructure delivers the fundamental public health outcomes as well as a liveability outcome for the people we’re serving.”

To celebrate the opening of the new green space, students from schools in the region were joined by players from local AFL team (and 2019 premiers) the Amata Swans and Port Adelaide Football Club to break in the new pitch and goal posts. 

Not-for-profit group KESAB environmental solutions and SA Water also ran water education and basic plumbing training sessions with some of the local children.

SA Water Manager of Community and Aboriginal Engagement Rachael Siddall said the workshops helped to increase awareness of where drinking water comes from.

“Aboriginal people have been living sustainably on country for a long time, demonstrating traditional knowledge of land and protecting and maintaining sites of significance like waterholes,” she said.

“Our education sessions aim to combine this knowledge with modern learnings to encourage the kids to think more about the value of their water.”

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