Ever wondered where your drinking water is coming from in caravan parks in the North of Western Australia? Anyone who has spent some time along the WA coast will know fresh, clean drinking water can often be hard to source.
If you were heading north from Perth you would have noticed the signs when leaving Carnarvon advising travellers to take plenty of fresh water. A sign that is often a novelty to travellers and a very important one to take notice of.
Due to infrequent and irregular rainfall there are few storage dams and, as you may have noticed, most buildings in the region don’t have guttering to catch what rain does fall.
At the Lighthouse Caravan Park we have a complex water system that provides our guests with high quality drinking water.
Here along the Ningaloo coast in particular, our only natural water source we have access to throughout the year is an artesian bore, often warm to hot in temperature and usually far too salty (saline) to drink, but OK to shower in or wash dishes in.
Operating a caravan park in such a remote and unique part of Western Australia means we have decided to make our own fresh water in our small reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plant.
Let us answer a few questions that we have been asked by travellers over the years …
What is reverse osmosis and desalination?
Reverse osmosis (used in the production of fresh water from saline or salty water) is the process of forcing dissolved salt from a region of high concentration through a semipermeable membrane to a region of low salt concentration by applying a pressure greater than natural osmotic pressure.
And now in plain speak – essentially water from our salty artesian bore is forced under pressure through special filters that allow only fresh water through while leaving the dissolved salt behind in a hyper salty solution.
Desalination is the term given to any process that removes the salt from water, whether from RO or by other means.
How much fresh water is produced?
Our primary RO plant is capable of producing about 1,300 litres of fresh drinking water per hour at peak production (about 31,000 litres per day ).
Approximately 80,000 litres of artesian bore water per day is pumped to a large storage tank on a hill behind the park and then gravity fed to the high pressure water pump.
The left over highly saline water is then pumped to a collection point where it naturally evaporates and disperses.
We do have an older RO system that can be brought online under peak load that will provide additional water production if required.
Where we use fresh water?
Running a caravan park uses quite a lot of water! On average we use approximately 18,000 litres of fresh water throughout the park per day, while during peak season times this can rise to in excess of 30,000 litres.
As the production of fresh water is time consuming and costly, we only use fresh water where absolutely necessary.
Fresh water is pumped into the hot water lines on all water heaters (in the shower blocks as well as bungalows and chalets) as the saline water affects the heating element over a long period of time.
Each cabin, bungalow and chalet have separately marked taps for fresh drinking water.
Fresh water is also distributed to the many large and small storage tanks you see around the park for your use. Unfortunately we do not allow anyone to fill caravan/camper tanks direct from our storage tanks as we don’t have the production capacity or infrastructure to sustain this. The Exmouth Visitor Centre in Exmouth DOES have mains water available if you would like to fill your tanks before staying with us.
Water from the taps on your site in the campground is sourced from the artesian bore and as such has a higher saline concentration than fresh water. The saline concentration changes throughout the year due to seasonal fluctuations, rainfall and the water table. At times the water is nearly drinkable with only a slight brackish taste while at other times it can be noticeably salty.
When booking in, we advise all guests what water to use for drinking and what water is suitable for all other uses.
If you have any further questions relating to our drinking water, please call into our office and ask for Ray, the manager, who is more than happy to answer your questions.
We hope that you do enjoy our clean, fresh drinking water an have a great stay with us!