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Katherine’s pilot PFAS plant hits a milestone

Katherine’s pilot PFAS water treatment plant has reached a significant milestone, successfully treating more than 1 GL of groundwater since it began operating in 2017.

Supplied by the Department of Defence, the plant was installed following groundwater per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the Northern Territory, and the success of the pilot has locked in long-term infrastructure plans. 

The permanent PFAS treatment plant will be co-located on the site of Power and Water’s existing Katherine Water Treatment Plant and will supply and cater for the ongoing growth of the Katherine township.

The contamination resulted from use of the chemicals in firefighting foam at the Tindal RAAF base in the late 1990s.

Power and Water Water Services Manager Assets Skefos Tsoukalis said it was an exciting moment for the Katherine community.

“To continue providing safe drinking water for Katherine residents is a huge responsibility for Power and Water,” he said.

“It has been a very difficult and challenging few years for everyone while we came to terms with the PFAS contamination issue and how it could be managed. It hasn’t been an easy road for the community.”

The pilot plant uses ion exchange technology, which will also be used in the new 10 ML per day treatment plant currently under construction.

Tsoukalis said the Katherine community deserved praise for being so supportive of conservation measures introduced to help protect the water supply, which meant demand was reduced by 20%.

“We need to keep working together to be water smart to maintain a safe drinking water supply,” Tsoukalis said.

“Katherine residents have become great water efficiency champions, demonstrating tremendous responsibility in valuing this precious resource. Thank you for your support and patience, and sharing this obligation to help keep water use down.

“While it’s been a long journey, we can be confident in the long-term solution for Katherine with proven technology and that’s a great achievement.”

The new treatment plant is due to be fully commissioned in 2021.