Upgrades to improve Wirrina Cove's drinking water begin

Upgrades to SA Water's Wirrina Cove treatment plant are set to improve the quality of drinking water for local customers.

SA Water took the reins of Wirrina Cove's water network from the District Council of Yankalilla in July 2019, assuming responsibility of its operation and maintenance, and now work is underway to improve the overall network.

SA Water asset operations and delivery general manager Mark Gobbie said while Wirrina Cove's water supply currently did not look ideal, it was safe to drink.

"We acknowledge there's still a way to go to bringing the aesthetic quality of the water to an acceptable standard for local residents and businesses, but I assure you the water remains safe to drink, and we are committed to improving supply in a timely and cost-efficient way," he said.

He said new and extra treatment infrastructure installed at the water treatment plant would improve water quality and the overall management of the Wirrina Cove drinking water network.

"A specialised aerator will assist in improving the taste and smell of our local customers' tap water and our compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines," he said.

"It works by removing chlorine disinfection by-products from the water, which are created by the interaction of chlorine with organic matter in the reservoir."

Infrastructure at Wirrina Cove Reservoir was also upgraded, with a new pontoon installed at the edge to make loading and unloading and equipment onto small boats safer and more efficient before they headed out to complete monitoring, testing and treatment activities.

These tasks are conducted to give a detailed picture of "how the body of water is behaving or whether there are any localised issues such as algae".

"The presence of algae in open water sources is a common event during warmer weather when conditions are favourable for growth, but can also occur as a result of an excess of nutrients entering the water through rain runoff or bank erosion," Mr Gobbie said.

"Algal blooms cause a naturally-occurring compound called geosmin, which can affect water aesthetics, but is harmless to human health. The Wirrina Cove Reservoir is no exception to this water quality challenge."

Across Australia, targeted activated carbon dosing at water treatment facilities absorb geosmin in the water before the carbon is removed through the plant's usual treatment process - but this process is unable to be done at the Wirrina Cove plant.

Mr Gobbie said specialised equipment is being built to enable the carbon dosing can soon occur there.

"We will continue updating the community as further investigations and improvement work progresses, with information sheets currently included with each quarterly water bill sent to local SA Water customers," he said.

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