Port Augusta City Council is working on a plan to 'Waterproof the City', which would greatly reduce the reliance on water from the River Murray.
A consultant has been contracted to undertake an integrated water resource management study, which includes analysing the City's potential water sources and then comparing the possible available supply to the demand, by using WaterCress computer software.
This develops a model for exploring alternative water systems and looks at using water from stormwater runoff, reclaimed water reuse, underground aquifer storage and the creation of wetlands.
The draft version of the report is expected to be prepared for Council's consideration by the end of June 2008. However, because of the ever-changing demands on the City's water supply, it will be a 'live document' so it can be continually adapted to meet the City's changing needs.
Located in an arid area, Port Augusta would be a very dry and dusty city if it wasn't for the many parks and gardens Council provides for its residents. It is important the community has green parks for recreation and also for aesthetic factors. The success of the Port Augusta foreshore transformation proves this, with the change from an arid, dusty landscape, to a green and attractive one, having a significant, positive impact on the local community as well as the economy.
Even if water continues to be available from the River Murray, the inevitable rise in the cost of the available water could make it unaffordable to maintain existing parks and gardens and hinder the creation of any other areas.
Port Augusta City Council is a leader in its innovative approach to developing its own sustainable water supply - borne out by the recent National Award for Innovative Water Management. More than a decade ago, the possibility of sewer mining and a Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) was explored and has now been in operation for more than two years.
The project takes untreated wastewater from the nearby SA Water sewage pump station and treats it at the Central Oval plant. Up to 500KL/day of suitably treated wastewater is produced, which is used to irrigate the first two stages of the proposed six staged project. Central Oval, the East & West foreshores, Lions Park, Volunteer Park, Apex Park and Pastoral lawns are already being watered by the system; Chinnery Oval has been approved for irrigation with an extension to Nerrilda Nursing Home to water its gardens.
Stage 4 is also about to commence with the project extended to ETSA Oval and the Ryan Mitchell Swim Centre while Stages 5 and 6 will see reclaimed water pumped to Rotary Park and the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden.
In winter, the water produced by the WWTP is enough to meet Port Augusta City Council's current and future needs but in peak periods over the summer period, 640KL of water is required to water up to stage 4 of the irrigation project, using treated waste water.
At present, mains water is used during these times for additional watering needs. This is the type of situation that the WaterCress model will assist in addressing through possible use of harvested stormwater from appropriate areas of the city.
The aim of Council is to use additional reclaimed or storm water in addition to the water created by the WWTP. Test drilling commenced in November 2007 to find underground aquifers so water of an appropriate quality can be stored and reused in peak periods. Water from stormwater outlets on Seaview Road, Carlton Parade and near Nerrilda Nursing Home could be diverted to engineered wetlands that would treat the water before it is pumped into the underground aquifer and stored for later use. It is also possible that with suitable tertiary treatment, the present reclaimed water could be approved by the Environment Protection Authority for aquifer storage in winter and later summer reuse for irrigation.
Another option includes further reducing the amount of treated wastewater discharged into the Spencer Gulf by exploring the possibility of reusing water from SA Water's Eastside plant.
In addition to this, two gigalitres of water has been promised to Port Augusta City Council by Acquasol, the developers of a proposed solar power and desalination plant on the City's outskirts.