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.
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.

How Ipswich soldiers are helping victims on Kangaroo Island

IPSWICH soldiers have delivered fresh drinking water to the Kangaroo Island community, as raging bushfires have continued to wreak havoc.

An air force C-17A Globemaster flew from Amberley to Adelaide with a water purification and desalination system (WPDS), a system usually used to supply drinking water during major ADF exercises.

The system is capable of turning any water source into fresh drinking water and has helped to supplement drinking water supplies on Kangaroo Island where bushfires have impacted water storage levels.

Bushfires on the island remain uncontrolled, with emergency services working around the clock to build control lines.

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

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.

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 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.