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Oodnadatta desalination plant commences operation

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09 August 2023

Residents of the remote predominantly-Aboriginal town of Oodnadatta, 12 hours drive north of Adelaide, are now able to drink their own water.

After more than two years of planning and assessments, SA Water has opened a reverse osmosis plant in Oodnadatta that can produce up to 210,000 litres of potable water a day.

While many take credit for this development, it is due in no small part to the work of one person: former Indaily (now ABC) journalist Stephanie Richards.

In a series of articles beginning as far back as 2019, Richards and Indaily revealed that households in Oodnadatta were being charged normal prices for water that consistently breached national drinking water guidelines for metal and mineral content and possibly contained the lethal brain-eating parasite naegleria fowleri. Oodnadatta water was so fundamentally unhealthy that SA Water itself had told locals that not only should they and their children never drink it but also never use it to brush teeth, wash food, or allow it to get up their noses.

SA Water pamphlet distributed to residents and businesses in Oodnadatta. (Credit: Indaily)


In the years since those revelations, the Aboriginal Health Council of SA has facilitated discussions between Oodnadatta families and the state government and SA Water, ensuring that local sentiment was clearly expressed.  AHCSA CEO Shane Mohor was proud to be invited to represent Dunjiba community and speak to news media on their behalf in Oodnadatta on the day of the water facility opening ceremony. 

Fittingly, to Stephanie Richards herself.

Pictured, outside the old school house, Dunjiba Community Council Complex, Oodnadatta SA: Shane Mohor, Stephanie Richards.


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