Water restrictions to stay

WATER EMERGENCY: Katherine's water is drawn from Donkey Camp weir, upstream of the town.
WATER EMERGENCY: Katherine's water is drawn from Donkey Camp weir, upstream of the town.

Katherine’s water restrictions will stay, despite early suggestions they were a temporary measure.

The restrictions were introduced by the NT Government in August last year as an emergency health response to continued high PFAS contamination levels in drinking water.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said the restrictions were to reduce demand during the peak September/October peak period.

Reducing the amount of water Katherine residents use will improve the ability for Power and Water to manage the quality of the town’s drinking water to help ensure the levels of Poly – Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) stay within the Health Based Guidance Values."

Power and Water says the restrictions were effective in reducing demand so they were able to avoid using the contaminated water treatment plant bores.

Instead the town’s water supplies were drawn from the river and a new $4 million PFAS treatment plant rushed in by the Department of Defence.

The government continues to assure residents the water is safe to drink.

At the time of the introduction of restrictions, Ms Fyles suggested they would end once the peak period of demand had passed.

Power and Water has said the restrictions would likely be re-introduced again later next year to again contain demand until a permanent water treatment fix was found.

Odd numbered properties are permitted to irrigate Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 6pm – 8am.

Even numbered properties are permitted to irrigate Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 6pm – 8am.

“Water conservation measures will be reviewed in November,” the government said when the restrictions were introduced.

Despite the much lower demand during the current wet season, the restrictions may stay.

“Water conservation measures are currently in place to ensure the provision of safe drinking water for Katherine residents and they have been effective,” A Power and Water spokesman said.

“Power and Water will provide advice to government on the future of water conservation measures in Katherine.

“This advice will be based on the outcomes to date, which includes the installation of the pilot treatment plant and demand management activities including leak detection and fixing and the Interim Human Health Risk Assessment released last week.”