An Air Force C-17A Globemaster has flown from Brisbane to Adelaide with a water purification and desalination system (WPDS) to supply drinking water to residents on fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island. 

The system has been delivered to RAAF Base Edinburgh, north of Adelaide, for transportation by road and ferry to Kangaroo Island as part of Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20.

Capable of turning any water source into fresh drinking water, Australian Army water purification and desalination systems are normally used to supply drinking water during major ADF exercises and deployments. 

The WPDS will help supplement drinking water supplies on Kangaroo Island where devastating bushfires have impacted water storage levels.

Nine soldiers from 6th Engineer Support Regiment, based at RAAF Base Amberley, and two health support staff from 2nd General Health Battalion, based at Gallipoli Barracks, will set up and operate the system. 

Lieutenant Mark Loneragan, of 6th Engineer Support Regiment, said the WPDS was capable of producing up to 100,000 litres of purified water a day from the sea. 

“Once established and initial supply is achieved, the system can continue to produce water under supervision, with regular maintenance undertaken by a small support team,” Lieutenant Loneragan said.

“We’ll be staying on Kangaroo Island with the system to pump water from the ocean, remove the salt and purify it for consumption. It’ll be tested by the health detachment to ensure purification before being distributed.”

Lieutenant Loneragan accompanied the WPDS on the journey to Kangaroo Island and expects to have the system up and running within a couple of days. The quality of the water will be continually tested by the team from 2nd General Health Battalion.

The Air Force’s C-17A Globemaster is just one of five aircraft dedicated to Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20, which started on January 4 2020 in support of emergency authorities.

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