Katherine’s water is safe to drink straight from the tap. We constantly monitor water quality and our water quality team carries out extensive testing to confirm your drinking water is safe.

Where Katherine's water comes from

The main source of drinking water comes from the Katherine River (90 per cent). This is blended with treated groundwater (10 per cent) that has had per- and poly-fluoroalkys substances (PFAS) removed by the PFAS treatment plant.

We undertake regular sampling of drinking water in Katherine, which is endorsed by the Department of Health and meet the requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Results of water sample tests are updated each month, and we publish PFAS monitoring results here.

We treat 100 per cent of your water to ensure its safe to drink straight from the tap.

Compulsory water conservation measures

Due to the presence of PFAS in water around Katherine, the Northern Territory Government introduced compulsory water conservation measures to take the pressure off our groundwater supplies.

This means:

  • ODD NUMBERED properties can only water three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6pm to 8am.
  • EVEN NUMBERED properties can only water three days a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 6pm to 8am.
  • No watering on Fridays.
  • No watering of hard surfaces such as concrete or paved driveways, footpaths, street gutters and road areas.

Prior to the introduction of water conservation measures, daily water use in Katherine was 529 litres per person per day compared with an average 226 litres per person per day throughout the rest of the country.

Water saving results so far

The local community is to be congratulated for adopting the water efficiency measures, which have assisted Power and Water to continue to deliver safe tap water for local residents and businesses.

The water conservation measures have helped reduce peak consumption by over 30 per cent through a combination of the committed water demand reduction efforts of the Katherine community and also through Power and Water's effective program of leak detection and repairs.

Living Water Smart in Katherine

It is important that we all work together to ensure Katherine’s water resources remain safe and reliable, both now and in the future.

Our Living Water Smart team will work together with the local community to reduce water use.

Katherine is one of the highest water users in the country at around twice the national average. Living Water Smart has found that one of the largest areas of water waste is through leaks.

In fact, some Katherine properties were found to have leak wasting of around 500 000 litres of water or about $1000 per year on average. Living Water Smart is providing a Community Leak Program to identify and fix leaks.

For more information, visit the Katherine Living Water Smart website.

PFAS in Katherine

Since being notified by the Department of Defence of the detection of per- and poly-fluoroalkys substances (PFAS) in the environment near RAAF Base Tindal, Power and Water has taken a positive approach to ensure safe drinking water continues to be delivered to the community of Katherine.

Power and Water is progressing work on a long-term solution for effectively managing the impacts of PFAS and securing safe water supply to cater for Katherine’s future growth.

An interim PFAS treatment plant  installed in October 2017 has been successfully treating 1 million litres of groundwater a day.

We have adjusted the blend of Katherine’s water sources so during peak demand, about 10 million litres of water each day is sourced and treated from the Katherine River and is blended with the 1 million litres per day of PFAS-treated groundwater.

About the PFAS treatment process

The PFAS water treatment system filters impacted groundwater, removing PFAS, before it enters the surface water treatment plant. It is then blended with treated Katherine River water before being sent to the water network before reaching the customers tap.

A pilot treatment plant using this technology has been successfully operating in Katherine since October 2017 treating up to 1 million litres of groundwater a day, consistently achieving results below the limit of reporting of 0.07ug/l which has been set by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

The pilot treatment system was designed and fabricated in the United States and is also being used successfully at the Williamtown and Oakey RAAF bases.

Stage 1

Groundwater passes through a filter for pre-treatment while removing organic matter. An antiscalant is then added to reduce the amount of calcium in the water.

Stage 2

The water is then passed through a series of filters containing a synthetic resin. The small plastic beads of resin have a unique chemical holding capacity which remove PFAS from the water.

Image of PFAS treatment process

Stage 3

We next mix the filtered water with the treated Katherine River water. We add small amounts of chlorine to keep your water safe all the way to your tap and fluoride to keep your teeth strong and healthy.

When the resin becomes PFAS saturated it is removed and replaced with new resin. The PFAS saturated resin is sent interstate by Defence for treatment and safe disposal.

Long term planning for Katherine's water supply

Providing a new safe water source to Katherine is complex, and Power and Water has been working diligently to ensure we provide the right long-term solution.

To secure the Katherine community’s water supply, Power and Water is working with the Department of Defence on the construction of a permanent 10 million litres per day PFAS treatment plant.

The primary objective of this major project is to meet future demand, for a 30-year planning horizon, equal to 20 million litres per day – 10 million litres per day from Katherine River and 10 million litres per day sourced from treated groundwater.

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.

Contacts and references

Australian Government Department of Health

PFAS information

Northern Territory Government Department of Health

PFAS fact sheet and frequently asked questions

Department of Defence

PFAS information

Hotline: 1800 316 813

Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority

PFAS investigation

Pollution hotline: 1800 064 56