Christies Beach has re-opened for all public access today, after water samples from the area indicated it was safe for swimmers or fishers to return.
A 400 metre section of the beach was temporarily closed over the weekend, after a chlorination system fault at the Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant on Friday night resulted in up to 6 megalitres of clean and treated, but un-disinfected, water discharged into the ocean.
Testing of water samples taken from the area on Saturday have confirmed the un-disinfected water had dissipated quickly and bacterial levels within the sea water comply with the Australian Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water.
SA Water’s Senior Manager Production and Treatment Lisa Hannant said the plant resumed normal operations on Saturday morning.
“A fault in the automated chlorination system was discovered by staff completing routine checks, when they immediately repaired it and returned the plant to normal operation," Lisa said.
“We are determining the root cause of the fault so we can understand what happened, and take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We apologise for the inconvenience this incident caused beach goers and assure the community that steps will be taken to prevent a recurrence.”
SA Health's Principal Water Quality Adviser Dr David Cunliffe said the weekend’s temporary beach closure was implemented as a precaution.
“The test results show that the risk of illness associated with the incident was low, but if people developed gastro-intestinal illness after coming into contact with seawater in the affected area, they should contact their medical practitioner,” David said.
Before being treated by one of SA Water’s treatment plants, wastewater from household toilets, sinks, showers and washing machines is more than 99.95% water, with a small amount of dissolved or suspended solid matter.
Chlorine disinfection is the final stage in the wastewater treatment process that kills any microorganisms that remain after biological treatment processes have cleaned the water and removed solid or organic matter.
Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant produces an average of 23 megalitres of treated wastewater, or recycled water, every day and the majority of this is used for agricultural irrigation in the McLaren Vale and Willunga areas during growing seasons.
When there is no agricultural demand for the plant’s recycled water, it is released to the ocean through outfall pipes that take it 420 metres from the shoreline and diffuse it over a further 250 metres.
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