South Australia has to deal with some of the most difficult source water supplies in Australia. River Murray water is notoriously turbid and many parts of Adelaide’s densely populated natural catchments have polluted waterways.
Despite this, SA Water provides 98% of the population with high quality filtered water which meets or exceeds standards set by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
In the early 1970s the then State Government decided that the solution for Adelaide’s water supply was filtration, a water treatment process which would ensure the supply met the high standards regarded as desirable for the city.
Distribution of filtered water began on 11 September 1977 with the commissioning of the Hope Valley Water Filtration Plant.
The second plant, at Anstey Hill, was commissioned on 29 January 1980. The third, at Barossa was officially opened on 31 October 1982 and the fourth, at Little Para, on 23 November 1984.
The first stage of the largest plant, at Happy Valley opened on 12 November 1989 and the plant was completed and commissioned in 1991.
The Myponga Water Filtration Plant opened on 25 November 1993 and is the sixth and final plant to serve metropolitan Adelaide.
At the completion of these ambitious projects, 85% of South Australians were enjoying the benefits of filtered water.
SA Water’s next goal was to extend the delivery of filtered water to residents living outside the metropolitan area. Until 1997 the only area outside Adelaide receiving filtered water was the Upper Spencer Gulf region served by the Morgan Filtration Plant.
SA Water decided to package the next phase of its water quality improvement program into an innovative Build Own Operate Transfer contract for 10 Country Filtration Plants to serve the Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Mid-North, upper South-East and the larger towns along the River Murray.
The $115 million project, won by Riverland Water, is now providing filtered water to more than 100,000 people in over 90 rural communities.
In 2007 SA Water commissioned 10 water treatment plants along the River Murray servicing small communities including Mypolonga, Cadell and Morook.
At the same time, SA Water turned its attention to Kangaroo Island and how to provide filtered water to this internationally recognised ecotourism destination.
Two plants now operate on the Island, a standard filtration plant at Middle River and a state-of-the-art saltwater desalination plant at Penneshaw.
In 2002, a new water treatment plant featuring world-first technology came on line to provide clear, clean drinking water to more Adelaide Hills residents.
The Mount Pleasant MIEX® (Magnetic Ion Exchange) Plant incorporates technology developed by SA Water, CSIRO and Orica (formally ICI).
Some towns in the upper South East of South Australia get their water from underground aquifers containing water high in iron. Special Iron Removal Plants have been constructed to remove the iron before the water is sent into the mains system.