Living Water Smart
PFAS in the
Katherine water demand management
Last year the Department of Defence advised of the presence of Per-fluorinated and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in the vicinity of some of its bases around Australia, including RAAF Base Tindal, Katherine.
Power and Water is providing an important role in the monitoring of PFAS in the town water supply and is working with the Department of Defence and Department of Health to gather information and help understand the movement and levels of PFAS.
Our current activity
Power and Water carries out an extensive sampling program throughout the year on its drinking water sources, in accordance with Department of Health and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
We undertake regular sampling of drinking water in Katherine. Testing for PFAS is conducted by laboratories interstate. Results of tests are provided to the Department of Health and updated each month on our website. For more details see our PFAS page.
Water supply in Katherine has traditionally been supplied from both river water (up-stream from Donkey Camp) and blended with groundwater supplies through bores located at the water treatment plant at Morris Road, North East Katherine.
To optimise the treatment plant capacity, groundwater is needed to blend with river water to provide Katherine’s drinking water. PFAS levels are highest in the groundwater.
We have adjusted the blend to reduce the use of groundwater to the minimal level and remove the presence of PFAS. During the period of peak demand and when the river level drops we need the community of Katherine to help us by using less water, reducing our reliance on groundwater.
Thanks to the efforts of the Katherine community, water use since August remains down by nearly two million litres each day compared to the previous year. Prior to this Katherine’s water use was twice the national average. This community conservation effort meant all water supplied to residents from August to November was sourced from the Katherine River. In the lead-up to Katherine experiencing its first heavy rainfall of the wet season, the practical water efficiency measures adopted by the community were able to assist Power and Water to continue to deliver safe tap water for local residents and businesses with enough contingency to also refill the Katherine public pool.
This has reinforced the value of working together to assist in keeping Katherine’s drinking water source safe and reliable.
Power and Water is currently assessing a range of water treatment and possible alternative surface and groundwater supply options to secure the Katherine water supply for the longer term.
In collaboration with the Department of Defence, Power and water has successfully installed a pilot groundwater treatment plant to supplement peak demands and improve security of the current supply. The plant is now operating after extensive testing and supplying treated groundwater through Katherine's reticulated water system.
Our shared responsibility
The Northern Territory Government and Power and Water are committed to providing safe drinking water to the Katherine community.
The PFAS situation has highlighted how we all need to work together to ensure Katherine’s water resources remain safe and reliable. To support this, the Northern Territory Government has introduced compulsory water conservation measures.
By working together and smarter, we can conserve Katherine’s water.
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:
Katherine’s water use is currently twice the national average and this needs to be reduced by around 20% 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, one in five Katherine properties has a leak, wasting around 500 000 litres of water or about $1000 per year on average. Living Water Smart is implementing a Community Leak Program to identify and fix leaks.
For more information visit the Katherine Living Water Smart website.
Power and Water
Media releases/news articles
Australian Government Department of Health
Northern Territory Government Department of Health
Australian Government Department of Health
Department of Defence
Hotline: 1800 316 813
Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority
Pollution hotline: 1800 064 567
For general queries please contact our customer service team on 1800 245 092.