Where Katherine's water comes from | Our current activity | How the PFAS Treatment process works | Long Term planning | Alternative water source development project | Working together | Compulsory water conservation measuresLiving Water Smart Katherine | More information | Contact us

Katherine’s water is high quality and 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.

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 Katherine Community.

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.

Where Katherine's water comes from

Our main source of drinking water comes from the Katherine River (90%). This is blended with treated groundwater (10%) that has had PFAS removed by the PFAS treatment plant.

Our current activity

We undertake regular sampling of drinking water in Katherine, which are endorsed by the Department of Health and meet the requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

We have adjusted the blend of water sources so that currently around 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.

An interim PFAS treatment plant that was installed in October 2017 has been successfully treating 1 million litres of groundwater a day. PFAS levels are highest in the groundwater.

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


How the PFAS treatment process works

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 US 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.

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.

What happens to the resin?

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

Providing a new safe water source to Katherine is complex, and Power and Water have been working diligently to ensure we get the right long-term solution put in place.

The pilot treatment plant supplied by Defence that is currently in use to remove PFAS from Katherine’s groundwater supply has already been successfully treating up to 1 million litres of water a day since October and we now know much more about that technology to action a much larger and permanent facility to keep Katherine water safe over the long term.

To secure the Katherine community’s water supply, Power and Waters preferred option is the construction of a permanent 10 million litres per day PFAS treatment plant.

The primary objective of this 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.

Discussions have commenced with the Department of Defence to fund the cost of the PFAS treatment plant, to be delivered as soon as practicable..

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.

For more information go to our Compulsory water conservation measures page.

Alternative water source development project

As part of prudent long-term water supply planning, an associated project investigating new groundwater sources is being progressed and developed to the concept design phase.

A program of drilling investigations has been developed, with the intention of commencing the first survey sites shortly.

Power and Water is currently liaising with landowners and regulatory authorities to facilitate the fast-tracking of this work.

Construction of dams is not a quick process due to the necessary and required approvals such as land access, native title and environmental. Although this option has also been given due consideration as part of the overall solution it has not been pursued.

Working together

In August 2017, the Northern Territory Government announced compulsory water conservation measures to reduce demand on groundwater sources.

The water conservation measures reduced consumption by over 30% 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 identification and repairs.

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, and to also supply safe water for the Katherine public pool.

Results of water tests are updated each month on our website. For more details see our PFAS water testing page.

Prior to the introduction of the water conservation measures, the daily water use in Katherine (529 litres per person per day) was double the national average (226 litres per person per day).

By working smarter and together, safe drinking water continues to be delivered to Katherine.

Updated 18 December 2018

Compulsory water conservation measures

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

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

Katherine’s water use is currently twice the national average and this needs to be reduced to ensure water supplies remain sustainable.

For more information go to our Compulsory water conservation measures page.

Katherine Living Water Smart

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.


More information

Power and Water

PFAS information

Compulsory water conservation measures

Living Water Smart - Katherine

Media releases/news articles

Australian Government Department of Health

PFAS information

Northern Territory Government Department of Health

PFAS fact sheet and frequently asked questions

Media release

Australian Government Department of Health

PFAS information

Department of Defence

PFAS information

Hotline: 1800 316 813

Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority

PFAS investigation

Pollution hotline: 1800 064 567

Contact us

For general queries please contact our customer service team on 1800 245 092.