Ipswich soldiers pitch in with recovery effort on Kangaroo Island

The Kangaroo Island community are now drinking fresh water topped up by Ipswich soldiers.

The blaze on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island is still uncontrolled with emergency services working around the clock to build control lines.

An Air Force C-17A Globemaster flew from Amberley to Adelaide with a water purification and desalination system (WPDS) to supply drinking water to residents on Kangaroo Island. 

Capable of turning any water source into fresh drinking water, Australian Army water purification and desalination systems are normally used to supply drinking water during major ADF exercises and deployments. 

This is now helping to supplement drinking water supplies on Kangaroo Island where devastating bushfires have impacted water storage levels.

Sappers from the 1st Support Troop, 6th Engineer Support Regiment are deployed to Kangaroo Island to help purify drinking water for the town of Kingscote during Operation Bushfire Assist. Images Defence

Nine soldiers from 6th Engineer Support Regiment, based at RAAF Base Amberley, and two health support staff from 2nd General Health Battalion, based at Gallipoli Barracks, have set up and are now operating the system. 

The system was delivered to RAAF Base Edinburgh, north of Adelaide, then transported by road and

Lieutenant Mark Loneragan, of 6th Engineer Support Regiment, said the WPDS was capable of producing up to 100,000 litres of purified water a day from the sea. 

“Once established and initial supply is achieved, the system can continue to produce water under supervision, with regular maintenance undertaken by a small support team” Lieutenant Loneragan said. 

“We’ll be staying on Kangaroo Island with the system to pump water from the ocean, remove the salt and purify it for consumption.

“It’ll be tested by the health detachment to ensure purification before being distributed.”

The quality of the water will be continually tested by the team from 2nd General Health Battalion.

The Air Force’s C-17A Globemaster is just one of five aircraft dedicated to Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20, which started on January 4 in support of emergency authorities.  

About 420 personnel, including 388 firefighters, defence members and police remain on the ground.

Sapper Samual Brown from the 6th Engineer Support Regiment is deployed to Kangaroo Island. 

Operation Bushfire Assist stastics

RAAF Base Amberly’s C-17A Globemaster has moved 265,382lbs of cargo and 278 passengers

More than 700 Air Force personell and 71 units are working in support

More than 5000 full-time and reserve personnel providing direct support in the field, at sea, in the air and from Defence bases across fire-affected regions

More than 2700 reservists are supporting Operation Bushfire Assist  

Since September 2019, there have been more than 227 flights by RAAF aircraft

Total cargo moved: 472,602lbs

Total passengers 1,213

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