Tapping into supply
Posted: 16 August 2023
Every year, we draw 5.5 gigalitres (GL) of groundwater out of the Yarragadee aquifer to use for drinking water.
5.5 gigalitres – it doesn’t sound like that much does it?
But it does when you consider that 5.5 gigalitres is actually 5.5 billion litres (5,500,000,000L).
Now think of 2,100 Olympic-sized swimming pools – filled to the brim. Sounds much more impressive now!
It’s a lot of water. And we need it. Our population is growing and there are ever-increasing demands from our community for high-quality drinking water.
But have you ever wondered how the water gets from the ground to your tap?
Wonder no more!
All of Busselton’s drinking water comes from the Yarragadee aquifer. Located hundreds of metres below ground, the aquifer runs beneath the Swan Coastal Plain from Geraldton to the south coast. It’s up to two kilometres deep and stores about 1,000 cubic kilometres of water (FYI: 1 cubic kilometre = 1000GL).
Groundwater collected in the aquifer is extracted by Busselton Water. We do this using a network of bores (nine in total). The bores pump the groundwater from the coastal location to one of three water treatment plants.
The groundwater can’t simply be piped into homes and businesses, it needs to be treated first. Raw groundwater is not fit for drinking, so a three-step process is used to make the water safe.
First the raw groundwater is dosed with a small amount of chlorine and it’s then aerated through spray nozzles – this oxidises the naturally-occurring iron and manganese in the water and turns them from their soluble form into small solids.
Now that we’ve got the solids, we need to get them out of the water. We do this via filtration. Filtering the water through sand not only removes the iron and manganese solids but also the turbidity (cloudiness caused by invisible solids) and other impurities. A well is used to collect the filtered water.
The final process before sending the water to our taps is to disinfect the water. A little bit of chlorine is used to make sure the water is safe to drink (it needs to travel through the large pipe network before it reaches its final destination and there can be the odd nasty lurking in the network, and by nasty we mean a pathogen or bacteria). The treatment and disinfection processes enable Busselton Water to achieve 100 per cent compliance with all health-related water quality requirements.
The 100 per cent safe drinking water is sent through the extensive pipe network (more than 345 kilometres) to around 14,500 customers (residential, commercial, light industrial and special rural water users) across an area of almost 7,000 square kilometres. The area includes the Busselton city centre, as well as nearby Port Geographe, Siesta Park, Vasse and Wonnerup. We also provide bulk water supplies to Dunsborough.
Yes, we supply billions of litres of water to our community every year, but water is a finite resource. The fact of the matter is, climate change is affecting supplies. With our climate getting hotter and drier, there is increasing demand for water but less supply due to declining rainfall (the Yarragadee aquifer is replenished by rainwater).
We need to find ways to reduce water use and also to secure future supplies.
Busselton Water is developing a new inland bore field and exploring other opportunities to safeguard water supplies. We’re planning and working towards making sure we have Water for Tomorrow.
But it’s not up to us alone.
Our whole community needs to make saving water a priority.
Whether in your home or in your business, there are a few simple things you can do to be more waterwise:
- Install and use the half-flush on toilets – save 3 litres on every flush
- Use a dishwasher – save up to 15 litres compared to handwashing
- Fix leaking taps – save around 25 litres a day
- Install aerators in sink taps – saving 9 litres per minute
- Make sure sprinkler timers are correctly set – saving more than 30 litres
For more tips, visit our water saving ideas page.
Head to our Water for Tomorrow webpage to find out more.