Home > Uncategorized > But can you drink the water?

But can you drink the water?

I haven’t mentioned the water yet have I?

Hobart’s median annual rainfall is a generous 597.8mm & Melbourne cops 646.2mm. We’re in the middle of a desert, in the middle of Australia, much of which is also desert and our average annual rainfall is a mere 237.6mm.  So where does Alice Springs get its water from?

From under the ground.

You might be thinking we tap into the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). But no, we source our water from the Amadeus Basin at Roe Creek Borefield, about 15km south of Alice Springs.

The Amadeus Basin is not connected to the GAB.

Four different aquifers supply the town’s water – Mereenie Formation, Upper Pacoota Sandstone, Lower Pacoota Sandstone & the Upper Shannon Formation. Around 80% of our supply is drawn from the Mereenie Formation.

Here's a pretty picture showing how & where Alice Springs gets its water from under the ground

There are no water restrictions in Alice Springs. Yet.

One assumes that eventually, given the average water usage being so high here (roughly 1000L per person per day!)& total amount of water getting lower, we will end up with water restrictions.

Many would disagree but I think the water here tastes just fine. So did my daughter when she was living here. So does my partner. We don’t bother with any water filtration devices or buying our drinking water. We drink straight from the tap. At most, when I am refilling my drinking bottle with water, I’ll leave the cap off for a couple of hours to get rid of any chemical taste.

I think Alice water tastes better than Hobart’s. And I think Adelaide’s water tastes better than both.

All a matter of taste I guess.

BUT … there is something I need to mention about our water supply: it’s very hard.

We have a problem with the chronic build up of scale.

Scale is the white-ish/green-ish hard, crusty, rock-like coating that builds up on all our taps, shower heads, inside our kettles, hot water systems, pipes etc etc. It will even damage your toilet’s rubber valves & seals. It’s due to the high levels of calcium & magnesium in our groundwater. It can be very difficult to remove.

Scale causes no harm to your health should you happen to drink it (and no doubt we all consume a reasonable amount each year).

Anywhere water travels around your house, there will be scale building up. This includes your pool filter & the pads on your evaporative air-conditioning units. Scale leaves streaks on your glass shower screens, your freshly washed dishes & on your lovely but not-so-shiny stainless steel sink.

I soak my kettle in white vinegar every few weeks. (And rinse thoroughly of course.)

The air-conditioner requires servicing & often new pads each year, generally in early Spring.

Shower heads need to be soaked in CLR (our local shops sell it in the bulk sized container which tells you something about the scale problem) probably once per season, more frequently is better. We don’t bother with a reduced-flow shower head because they need even more maintenance and the scale build up in our regular, old-style shower head reduces the water flow quite nicely thank you.

Some people swear by wiping dry the sink & the shower screen after each use – I don’t have the time. Instead I swab my shower screen monthly with the CLR (wear gloves) and I wipe down my kitchen taps & sink with white vinegar weekly. I also wipe out the dishwasher with vinegar after every few uses.

To soften the water when washing the dishes by hand, I add 1 tsp of bi-carbonate of soda.

Whilst I can obtain a lather when shampooing my hair, I do notice I need to wash it more frequently & it always feels dry & not so fresh and shiny. The lack of humidity here no doubt plays a role here too, I moisturise my hair & skin daily, often twice daily.

So, our water may bugger up your tap fittings & pipes but at least it’s safe to drink!

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  1. Anne
    May 11, 2010 at 1:15 am

    I reckon, the calcium in the water here must be good for something. Betcha we have some low osteoporosis rates in Alice!

  2. May 11, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Haven’t had to vinegar the kettle since we moved. And we are on rainwater here. Drank the water in Alice most of my life – never did me any harm 🙂

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