Water is an essential part of life, and we all need lots of drinking water every day to stay healthy. SA Water's Happy Valley water treatment plant supplies much of the water used in Adelaide, and regular free tours are held to show the public how we get such sparkling clean water.
A tour of our main water treatment plant takes about an hour, and is held at the SA Water plant adjacent to the Happy Valley reservoir. The Happy Valley reservoir is topped up as needed from the Mount Bold reservoir, or with water pumped from the River Murray. We also use water from the Adelaide desalination plant, but that is so clean that no treatment is needed before use.
The Happy Valley water treatment plant supplies residents in Adelaide with around 220 Mega litres every day, but was originally designed to be capable of producing nearly four times that amount. The height of the treatment plant above sea level means that many suburbs can be supplied with water just by gravity, but suburbs like Belair in the Adelaide Hills have a water tank to boost the water pressure.
The Pumping Station: Start of SA Water Treatment Process
The quality of drinking water in South Australia is regulated by government, and is far better than a couple of decades ago when you could fill a bath with muddy brown water. It's quite ironic that many people still choose to buy bottled water which is far lower purity than what's available from a tap. The plastic from water bottles is also a source of pollution - particularly in states without a container deposit.
Free tours of the SA Water Happy Valley water treatment plant start inside, with an explanation of the overall process. The tour group gets to see inside the treatment plant control room, now largely computerised. Warning: while inside the plant building you may feel the earth shake! This has nothing to do with bedroom habits or earthquakes, and you can remain calm. The real reason will be revealed a little later in the plant tour.
A Filter Tank at the Final Stage of Water Treatment
There's a modest amount of walking and standing at different stages of the tour, but I found it all entertaining and insightful. Before my visit I had no idea how the Adelaide water supply system works. Now I feel confident that I can explain the process, but I'm not going to steal the tour guide's thunder.
I learned about the water treatment plant free tours thanks to the lovely folk at City of Onkaparinga libraries, who did a fantastic job of organising it. If you live south of Adelaide then check out their What's On page for other ideas of fun things to do.
SA Water runs tours of the Happy Valley water treatment plant regularly. There are a number of specific requirements that you must follow, which are covered in the Happy Valley Tour previsit information document. If you don't wear appropriate shoes or clothing, you won't be able to do the tour.
Not only can you take the water treatment tour at Happy Valley reservoir, but there are tours of the Adelaide desalination plant, and a sewage treatment tour. I suspect that the latter is not as popular.