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The rural South Australian town of Marla now has access to clean drinking water directly from its taps for the first time, with the opening of SA Water’s new desalination plant. 

Located in the state’s Far North, Marla’s water supply has historically been designated as non-drinking, with residents sourcing their own drinking water from private rainwater tanks, water carting or bottled products.

Following extensive planning, construction and testing, the town’s small-scale desalination plant is now producing drinking-quality supply for locals to use in their kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and gardens.

SA Water’s General Manager of Sustainable Infrastructure, Amanda Lewry, said that this is the utility’s second drinking water upgrade for a remote town in the past 12 months.

“Having delivered a new desalination plant for our customers in nearby Oodnadatta last August, it’s exciting to see yet another of the state’s iconic outback towns enjoying safe, clean drinking water flowing through their pipes for the first time,” Ms Lewry said.

“Whether it’s greening the garden or topping up the kettle straight from the tap, we recognise the significance this upgrade will have on promoting health and hydration, along with the positive social and economic opportunities it provides.

“Marla’s desalination plant – constructed inside a shipping container to help protect the infrastructure from the sometimes harsh weather experienced in the area – can produce up to 87,000L of water each day.”

Ms Lewry said that drawing water supply from the largest groundwater basin in Australia – the Great Artesian Basin – the plant’s reverse osmosis technology pushes the sourced supply through a semipermeable membrane designed to separate the water and salt molecules.

“The purified water continues through the membrane for further cleaning and treatment to make sure it meets the requirements under the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011), before being stored inside an onsite 539,000L capacity tank, for distribution through a network of pipes to the town.

“The salty by-product created in the desalination process is diverted in the other direction, to be stored in the large on-site evaporation basin.

“We have worked closely with the Marla community to get to this historic point, and we encourage locals and tourists alike to give Marla’s new tap water a try.”

SA Water is also nearing completion on the delivery of a new desalination plant in Marree, with first water expected to be produced at the facility in the coming months.

Additionally, progress is continuing on water quality upgrades to existing water supply systems in the regional towns of Yunta, Manna Hill and Terowie, through the construction of new water storage tanks and disinfection treatment stations to maintain water quality throughout the local pipe networks.

Featured image: The new desalination plant in Marla. Image credit: SA Water.

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