Water authorities have again asked Katherine residents for their support to tackle PFAS contamination issues.
The NT Government has now decided a new filtration plant, 10 times the size of the emergency plant now removing PFAS, is needed for a long-term fix of the town’s drinking water.
But that new plant could be two years away from being purchased, installed and operational.
Without continued water restrictions, the town risks running out of safe drinking water.
Some senior Power and Water executives visited Katherine this week to ask for the help of residents.
“We ask them to be patient,” senior water and waste water engineer Skefos Tsoukalis said.
Mr Tsoukalis said engineers had now decided a treatment plant 10 times the size of the emergency plant now operating in Katherine was needed.
That experimental plant from the US uses activated carbon and resin to remove virtually all PFAS from water.
The $4 million plant, paid for by the Defence Department, can only treat one megalitre a day.
Katherine uses about 10 megalitres a day during peak times.
Power and Water also want to use bore water from the north side of the Katherine River to supplement river supplies.
They want to extract a further 10 megalitres of bore water from there to provide for Katherine’s growth into the future.
Area manager Chris Horton said it would take time to order, construct and prepare for a new plant, given it would be the largest of its type in the world.
“We hope it is earlier than two years, we are working hard to make sure that happens but we have to be realistic, it will take time,” he said.
As well, Defence still has to agree to pay for it, and the total cost is not yet known.
“We can’t just grab it off the shelf,” Mr Tsoukalis said.
“There is still a lot of unknowns in the technology.”
The poor end to the wet season means Katherine’s water demand has grown quickly.
That’s why authorities need the odds and evens garden watering system to be adhered to, until a permanent fix is in place.
“Katherine uses a heinous amount of water, the most per capita in the NT,” Mr Horton said.
Leak checkers will visit the town again.
“I want people to have confidence in their water, it is safe to drink that is the main message still,” Mr Horton said.
“People don’t want any PFAS in their water, we accept that.”
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.