Power and Water has constructed a new water treatment plant to deliver an improved quality of drinking water for one of the most remote northern Australian townships.

The new water treatment plant improves the overall mineral balance and enhances the disinfection of water before it goes to homes and businesses.

To overcome the geographical, climatic and logistical challenges, the water treatment facility was delivered through an innovative containerised solution.

All modules were assembled and pre-tested in Darwin before being transported to Borroloola by road for final integration and commissioning.

The new $6.4 million water treatment system was connected to the Borroloola reticulation network in September 2018.

A 16-week validation and testing period was undertaken to ensure the water produced by the water treatment plant met design specifications to improve the overall mineral balance and enhance disinfection of water before going to local homes and businesses.

The new $6.4 million Borroloola water treatment plant was delivered using a unique approach of constructing the facility in container modules.

New water treatment processes

Borroloola's only water supply is from groundwater. It is drawn from the Abner Sandstone Aquifer through five bores.

Previously basic spray aerators and calcite filters for stabilisation of the raw water were used on three bores to improve water quality. The remaining two bores underwent no water treatment, aside from the usual chlorine treatment.

The flow from all five bores was blended and chlorinated prior to entering a 2ML storage tank located on Trigg Hill from where the treated water then flows to the town under gravity.

While the previous water supply met Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, the potable water had slightly corrosive tendencies, which can contribute to deterioration of pipes, pumps and tanks.

Power and Water commenced assembly and construction of the water treatment plant in May 2017 and on-site preparation works began in Borroloola in October 2017

The new treatment plant underwent extensive testing before being transported by road train from Darwin in August 2018 for installation at Power and Water’s Borroloola bore site, located north of the existing Bore Road.

Through the new water treatment processes raw water from local bores is aerated through a degassing tower to remove the majority of carbon dioxide (CO2) and then balanced by the addition of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) through the new filters. This helps to prevent corrosion in the distribution system and the pipe network in homes and businesses.

The water is then disinfected by a new gas chlorination system and distributed to businesses and around 900 local residents. The system is designed to supply up to three mega litres of improved drinking water per day.

The upgrade will secure Borroloola’s water supply system for the next 30 years and also incorporates the ability to service Garawa town camps into the future.

The treatment plant was officially opened on Tuesday 16 October 2018.

A large turnout of Borroloola residents attended the official opening on site.

Who did the work?

Power and Water sort assistance to deliver the new water treatment plant through a design and construct joint venture between SUEZ and the Northern Territory-based company, Goodline.

In 2015, SUEZ and Goodline completed Australia's first biological filtration water treatment plant at Adelaide River.

Working with the community

Power and Water seeks meaningful long-term relationships that create lasting improvements and respects local culture.

To deliver the Borroloola water treatment project, Power and Water has worked with local businesses such as:

  • Willows Plumbing
  • TJS One Stop
  • Cairns Industries
  • McArthur River Caravan Park

The upgrade has also been creating a better understanding of the health benefits of drinking water and the need to conserve water through presentations to Borroloola school children and an art project.

Local artists and youth from the Borroloola region developed artwork that celebrates the local saltwater and freshwater peoples and is displayed around the treatment plant.

Water is a precious resource in remote areas and Power and Water will continue to work with the Borroloola community to raise awareness around water saving measures. This includes educating residents to turn off taps, sprinklers and irrigation systems when not in use and reporting leaks to the Roper Gulf Regional Council.

Borroloola school students’ artwork is featured at the water treatment plant.