BORE water quality can vary dramatically across Australia.
Mineral salts such as calcium and magnesium can contribute to water hardness and scaling.
While sodium and chloride are the primary contributors to salinity in water, potentially affecting irrigation use, let alone potability.
With much of the country in, or approaching drought, methods of remediating bore water are once again the popular topic at country barbeques.
It makes a big impact on peoples lives when you can supply them with decent water
One method discussed is de-ionisation, commonly known as magnets, which may have some affect on scaling depending on the circumstances and water quality.
A more mainstream solution, particularly where water is saline, is a reverse osmosis system.
Saltfree, owner operator, Brian Schulz, said he and his wife Carolyn have been manufacturing and installing reverse osmosis units across mainland Australia for ten years.
“Our smallest units are designed to produce up to 15,000 litres a day of potable water,” he said.
“We also build units capable of up to half a million litres for commercial operations.”
Mr Schulz said a core motivation in their business was helping people.
“It’s hard in a dry summer when you drive through rural areas.
“You know the hardship people are going through.
“It makes a big impact on peoples lives when you can supply them with decent water.
“They really do have options available now, it’s not like farming in the 1960’s.”
Mr Schulz said the reverse osmosis system is a simple process.
“You pass water under very high pressure, through very fine filters, known as membranes,” he said.
“The membranes effectively keep the mineral content on one side of the fabric.
“While the fresh potable water is extracted through an internal membrane which has pores that act as a pipe.
“The mineral content won’t pass through the internal membranes.”
Mr Schulz said unlike de-ionisation, there was a waste element.
“You are physically removing the mineral content from the water,” he said.
“One stream of bore water feeds the unit and two streams come out.
“One to carry the waste and bi-product, which is generally sent to an evaporation dam.
“The other is your freshwater which goes to a storage tank for you to draw from.”
Mr Schulz said systems often came in two formats, manual and automatic, which varied in price.
“To operate the manual unit we pressurise the feed line of water coming in and set a pressure switch in place,” he said.
“You literally just turn the bore valve on.
“The potable water is made instantly.
“The automatic systems have three computers on board.”
Mr Schulz said there was a range of mineral salts which could be present in bore water, affecting quality and potability.
“The yield of fresh water would depend on the mineral content of the water,” he said.
“Brackish water is classed from about zero to 10,000 parts per million (ppm) total soluble salts.
“Most potable drinking water is around 100 ppm and seawater is about 32,000 ppm.”
Mr Schulz said another consideration when costing a unit was power usage.
“Our smallest motor is 2.2 kilowatt (3 horsepower) an hour unit,” he said.
“When it is up and running it uses about 1.6 to 1.7 kWhr.
“Price wise for power, you are going to use between 40 and 50 cents an hour.
“We’ve also had plenty of units hooked up to solar power.”
Mr Schulz said pricing a unit depended on the location to install, the amount of potable water required and the quality of the water.
“It’s not just salt content, there are things like iron and aluminium content which need to be considered.
”You need a water test before you go ahead.”