Siltbuster – solving the shortage down under

The highest level of water restrictions has been imposed by East Gippsland Water in Australia following harmful pollution affecting the Mitchell River. To overcome the resultant water shortage there, the water company turned to Siltbuster find a solution that would improve water supply to 17,000 residents in the region.

Silt management and industrial water treatment company Siltbuster has come to the rescue of the Australian Water Authority by providing ten portable water clarifier units to filter and clean polluted water from the Mitchell River, in East Gippsland, Victoria.

More than 17,000 Australian residents have been affected by water shortages after tonnes of soil and debris from local bush fires washed into the Mitchell River, causing harmful pollution and seriously reducing important drinking water reserves.

In an unprecedented move, East Gippsland Water has imposed stage 4 water restrictions – the highest level – across the Mitchell River area in an effort to manage water consumption and replenish local storage at the Woodglen reservoir, which provides customers with drinking water from a severely reduced supply.

Suitable solution

Since February, a number of measures to improve the situation have been considered but it has taken the innovative work of UK-based Siltbuster for a suitable solution was found.

Following the successful installation of its Siltbuster clarifier units, installed adjacent to the Woodglen Reservoir, initial production of more than 4Ml (nearly four Olympic size swimming pools) of clean water have been produced in a very short time.

Siltbuster products are specifically designed to remove suspended solids and oil from water, and are suited to dealing with river pollution and water filtration.

It is hoped that by June 2007 enough useable water will be produced in order to meet customer demand, approximately 75Ml a week, with production increasing monthly in order to exceed demand and replenish vital water stocks.

Water sediment ponds are also being constructed on site to try and increase the amount of potable water.

East Gippsland Water’s chief executive officer, Les Mathieson, says: “We’ve shown it’s possible to treat the dirty water from the Mitchell River so that it’s drinkable. Now the next step is to increase the scale of production.

“With the Mitchell River’s storages now less than 40% full, our next target is to produce enough useable water through a range of contingency measures, including additional water clarifiers and bores, to balance our customer consumption. We are aiming at 75Ml a week by June and after this we’ll be looking to produce a surplus of water which can be used to help top up supplies in storage.

“We are looking to install extra Siltbuster units by Woodglen Reservoir, and have started drilling the first of a number of new bores at suitable locations nearby, which could supply a total of up to 50Ml of water a week.”

In addition to the Siltbuster units, two water holes owned by private landowners have also been utilised producing another megalitre of water a day for the reservoir.

Water replenishment

George Anderson, director of Siltbuste, comments: “We are extremely pleased that our water clarifiers have been able to help replenish dangerously low water supplies in Australia. We didn’t have a lot of time to mobilise but that’s when our rapidly deployable clarifiers and experience really comes into their own.

“The whole Siltbuster range has been designed to meet the increasing need to improve environmental protection of watercourses, groundwater and marine environments and the success of the water clarifier units in Australia are a perfect example of how well our units work.

“We are the UK’s leading supplier of silt management units where our products are used by such water companies as Southern Water plc, Bournemouth and East Hampshire Water plc and our industrial clients include Corus, RWE Npower plc, Exxon Mobil Chemicals and Tarmac Group plc.

“In Australia, water conservation is a major issue and we’re extremely pleased we have been able to do our bit.”

East Gippsland Water Authority currently has five Siltbuster mobile lamella

clarifier units working on site and five more units are on route to Australia in order to increase the amount of clean water that can be produced. Not only will the units help replenish reduced water stocks but they will also help improve the local environment thus ensuring a sustainable water supply for current residents and future generations.

It is expected stage 4 water restrictions will remain in place across the Mitchell River system for the next few months.

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