Katherine will need to work harder to conserve water if we want to protect our safe supply of drinking water.
A spokeswoman from Power and Water said water demand had increased in the past week and reminded residents to reduce water use so the use of PFAS affected bore water is kept to an absolute minimum.
“These measures are necessary to help safeguard the town’s water supply,” the spokeswoman said.
PFAS chemicals are in dangerous levels in our borewater which is blended with river water to provide Katherine’s drinking water.
Once blended with the river supply, our drinking water falls within safe limits of PFAS.
Water demand has gradually crept up and we are close to the maximum amount that can be produced without the need for bore water to be added.Chris Horton
However for periods of time the town drinks contaminated water found to be at least five times the recommended “tolerable daily intake” levels.
Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson told Katherine Times earlier this year that for sometimes weeks of the year the town is forced to solely rely on bore supplies.
“Every release and/or verbal communication I've received they have always stated that 100 per cent reliance on bore water can be for a day, several days or several weeks but historically it has never been longer than 3 weeks and that reliance up to 3 weeks has been very minimal over the last several years,” Ms Nelson has said.
Health minister Natasha Fyles has said “There may be times during the first rains of the wet season that bacteria levels peak in the Katherine River and it becomes highly turbid and reliance on bore water increases.”
During September, Katherine residents reduced water usage by 20 per cent.
Power and Water Katherine Region area manager Chris Horton said unlike last year, there was no September rain to help water gardens and open spaces this year.
“Water demand has gradually crept up and we are close to the maximum amount that can be produced without the need for bore water to be added,” Mr Horton said.
The Chief Minister has said his government had not discussed the provision of any other emergency water supplies for Katherine if contamination levels rose.
A water treatment plant arrived in town last week but will not be operational until the end of October.
Even when the plant is up and running it will only treat one tenth of the town’s daily water supply.
Mr Horton said installation of the “small pilot water treatment plant” will take about four weeks.
“Once fully operational, the plant will treat up to 1ML of bore water each day. This together with the 10.3ML that is produced by the existing treatment plant will be carefully managed to help Power and Water meet Katherine’s water demand,” Mr Horton said.
“However, we need residents to adhere to the conservation measures in place and make a conscious effort to continue to use less water during this high demand time.
“Power and Water is working hard to alleviate the situation and has secured interim support in the pilot water treatment plant to help keep Katherine’s water safe to drink, however we need the community of Katherine to keep helping out,” he said.
Katherine Times is awaiting response from Power and Water about the consequences if consumption is not dropped.
For information about how to be more water efficient the Leak Find and Fix rebate program, please visit: Living Water Smart Katherine
Full details of the conservation measures in place are available here: Katherine water demand management
Power and Water will also have people you can talk to at the Department of Defence community shopfront at the Katherine Oasis Shopping Centre from October 10-12 between 10.30am and 6pm.