Outback footy game powers up new green oval

The lush green of Amata Oval is in stark contrast the harsh, baron landscape of the APY Lands.
The lush green of Amata Oval is in stark contrast the harsh, baron landscape of the APY Lands.

More than 1000 kilometres north-west of Port Augusta in the middle of a vast red and brown landscape, an unexpectedly green oasis has been opened for the local football league and wider community to enjoy.

The newly greened Amata Oval is in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, near the South Australia/Northern Territory border, and is irrigated using recycled water from SA Water's nearby wastewater treatment plant.

To celebrate the opening, students from schools in the region were joined by players from the two local football teams - including 2019 Premiers, the Amata Swans - and Port Adelaide Football Club to break in the new pitch and goal posts.

SA Water's Manager of Remote Communities Simon Wurst said their objective was to provide Amata with a functional open space that can be maintained in an environmentally sustainable way.

"Each day, around 70,000 litres of wastewater is treated at the plant and pumped to an underground irrigation system at the oval," Simon said.

"It's a massive feat to have not only recycled water infrastructure in such an isolated location, but also green grass.

Around 70,000 litres of wastewater per day is treated at the SA Water plant and pumped to the oval's underground irrigation system.

Around 70,000 litres of wastewater per day is treated at the SA Water plant and pumped to the oval's underground irrigation system.

"We met this challenge through innovative solutions like special durable materials and remote monitoring and operation technology.

"Building relationships between the local community and our Remote Communities team has also been essential to ensuring the infrastructure delivers the fundamental public health outcomes as well as a liveability outcome for the people we're serving."

Port Adelaide Football Club Aboriginal Programs Director Paul Vandenbergh said the club has taken the opportunity to host a carnival for its WillPOWER program at the oval.

"WillPOWER is about encouraging students in the APY and Maralinga Lands to stay engaged with and complete their schooling," Paul said.

"We like to reward their school attendance with sporting carnivals, and while they're usually at Alice Springs or Ernabella, we jumped at the opportunity to host this event at the newly grassed Amata Oval.

"The importance of having a facility like this can't be underestimated for the local community and SA Water should be commended for helping make it happen."

Alongside the oval launch earlier this month, SA Water and KESAB environmental solutions ran education and basic plumbing training sessions with some of the local kids and community.

SA Water's Manager of Community and Aboriginal Engagement Rachael Siddall said the workshops help to increase awareness of where drinking water comes from and the importance of water sustainability.

"Water is such a valuable resource - it's essential for drinking and maintaining public health, as well as sustaining opportunities and development of the communities it's supplied to," Rachael said.

"Aboriginal people have been living sustainably on country for a long time, demonstrating traditional knowledge of land and protecting and maintaining sites of significance like waterholes.

"Our education sessions aim to combine this knowledge with modern learnings to encourage the kids to think more about the value of their water."