The NT Government now wants the Department of Defence to pay “upfront” for the cost of Katherine’s new water treatment plant.
Power and Water wrote to Defence three weeks ago asking for the upfront payment, which could be as high as $10 million.
The government says the continued delay over the ordering of a new water treatment plant for Katherine would not also delay its eventual arrival.
A new plant capable of cleaning PFAS chemicals from all the town’s water has been the NT’s preferred solution for the town’s water woes since May.
While the Department of Defence has agreed to pay for it, negotiations between Defence and Power and Water officials have been slow going for months.
The plant, similar to the one already operating in Katherine which is removing PFAS from one megalitre of drinking water per day, would be 10 times larger and needs to be constructed in the US.
“ … the ongoing discussions between Power and Water and the Department of Defence are not expected to delay the commissioning of the treatment plant, still scheduled for around December 2019,” a NT Government spokesman said, quoting from a Defence update.
Water restrictions will continue in Katherine until the new treatment plant is operational.
Restrictions, believed to be the first ever brought into a town because of PFAS contamination, have already been necessary for a year with two more build-up seasons yet to navigate safely.
The Department of the Chief Minister provided Katherine Times with the following information:
“The NT Government appreciates the ongoing partnership from the Commonwealth in addressing PFAS contamination issues in Katherine and Darwin and is continuing to work closely with them on solutions.
“To meet Katherine’s future water needs, the Power and Water Corporation has provided Defence with advice and a business case recommending the construction of an additional 10ML per day PFAS Water Treatment Plant to resolve the PFAS contamination of the water supply.”
The department said Power and Water had written to the Department of Defence just three weeks ago “requesting Defence provide upfront funding of the treatment plant”.
While no official cost has ever been provided for the plant, it is believed to be less than $10 million.
No explanation was given on why Power and Water want upfront payment.
“Ongoing discussions between Power and Water and the Department of Defence are not expected to delay the commissioning of the treatment plant, still scheduled for around December 2019.”
“The planning process for any new infrastructure takes a considerable period of time and Power and Water is working through the usual processes required for such a major project,” a Power and Water spokeswoman said today.
Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson today said: “The ongoing costs of the Katherine Water Treatment Plant are an operational matter, but I continue to raise the installation of the plant to ensure it is installed and operational as quickly as possible.
“As with any project of this size, there are many processes to work through and much planning is required.”
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