Purple House Dialysis is reopening in Kiwirrkurra! As one of Australia’s most remote communities that remains without safe drinking water after two years, this was no small feat.
With a population of 200 people, the community of Kiwirrkurra have been receiving 700 boxes of water a week since being advised in 2020 that the local tap water contained unsafe levels of fluoride. This forced Purple House to close our Kiwirrkurra unit as dialysis treatment requires large amounts of extremely clean water. Dialysis patients had to relocate 800 kilometres away to Alice Springs in order to receive the life-saving treatment, including Purple House Director and Senior Pintupi man Bobby West.
“We want to go back. Looking after country, being with family, funerals. It’s very important to us.” (Bobby West)
ABC reported that: “The United Nations says access to safe drinking water is a human right but Kiwirrkurra remains one of the 48 indigenous communities in Australia where the local water supply is below Australian Drinking Water health guidelines.” As Bobby stated “it’s not right. This wouldn’t happen anywhere else in Australia and we need help. We need water to drink.”
Last year, our amazingly clever Biomedical Engineer Michael Smith was awarded the Australian Water Association R&D Excellence Award for his design of a water conservation system for dialysis. Michael was originally trying to design a water saving system for the medical treatment that requires 400 litres of water per treatment. In the process of looking at water-efficiency, Michael discovered a way to purify contaminated water for dialysis using reverse osmosis. This system will allow Purple House to perform the water-hungry dialysis treatment in remote communities that don’t even have access to drinking water!
We are so excited to be getting people like Bobby home on Country in Kiwirrkurra. However, action desperately needs to be taken to supply the community with safe drinking water.
Residents of remote Kiwirrkurra are worried about tap water, but a reverse osmosis water purifier could help, ABC News