First look inside Katherine's water treatment plant.

The town of Katherine is “up to two years” away from receiving a permanent solution to our contaminated water crisis. 

Power and Water hope the “interim” water treatment plant is running by the end of the month. 

The treatment plant is a band-aid fix until a permanent plan is put in place. 

Power and Water Water Services executive general manager Robert Brito said exploratory bores would be drilled on the north side of Katherine River.

“The pilot plant that we are looking at today is going to alleviate the situation that we have right now, it will provide an extra million litres of water a day without PFAS in it,” Mr Brito said.

“This is another option which is a treatment solution and there are a couple of other treatment solutions available. 

“Some of the longer term options we are looking at is new alternate groundwater sources.

“We are exploring the options at the moment, we are doing an environmental assessment and ultimately that is going to lead to us drilling exploratory bores,” he said. 

Mr Brito said Power and Water were “looking very hard on the north side of the river”.

“What we have been saying to the residents of Katherine for the past few months is that we are working towards a time-frame around a couple of years and that depends a lot on the options we end up landing on,” he said. 

“We need to explore other solutions available to us. Up to two years is what we believe but it could be sooner. It is early days, we want to do things properly.

“We believe this tried and tested technology on PFAS chemicals is the best treatment solution, with all available world wide information,” Mr Brito said.

Defence spokesman Steve Grzeskowiak said several options were being examined as a permanent fix for Katherine.

Locating the supply bore on the north side of the river was one, a massive upgrade of the present plant to better handle dirty river water was another.

“It could be a few years before the long term fix is done,” he said.

Mr Grzeskowiak said similar plants to that now located at Katherine were already treating water at Oakey and Williamtown.

“This is the biggest by far,” he said.

“We are scouring the world for the best technology.”

He said the solid waste, the concentrated PFAS residue removed by the plant, was surprisingly small in volume and would be “taken away” for disposal.

“On the issue of storage of any waste products, we will store that in sealed containers on defence bases,” Mr Grzeskowiak said. 

“It will be kept on defence land in a safe place until we can really understand how to break it down safety.

“We are never going to walk away from the fact we put this stuff in the ground.”