Good and bad news on water front

A tanker captures the cleaner scouring water, to return to the dam.
A tanker captures the cleaner scouring water, to return to the dam.

With the new Level 4.5 water restriction coming into effect next Wednesday, April 17, council continues to seek stock water options as the additional load on the town water supply proves unsustainable.

Tenterfield Dam is at 37 per cent capacity with the Shirley Park bore pumping close to 0.9 ML a day to balance out the inflow to the Water Treatment Plant, but the bore's days are numbered due to water quality.

Mayor Peter Petty said that council may be carting water from outside of the shire this side of Christmas.

While testing and commissioning of the Apex Park bore continues, previous testing reflected the bore was low-yielding, and may only deliver several tanker loads of stock water per day. Once the Apex Park bore is operational council will be enforcing the cessation of automatic trough-filling where connected to the town water supply.

The state government has indicated a willingness to consider council's costs of investigating, establishing and connecting a new backup bore arrangement if one can be located. A packaged nano/ultra filtration plant or 1000 kilolitres/day reverse osmosis water treatment plant may also be on the cards, should there be a technical requirement.

Cr Petty appealed to all water users in the Tenterfield water supply area to be vigilant with their water use.

"We are approaching a critical situation," he said. "The key take on the new 4.5 water restrictions is that only registered water carriers will be able to access the water dispensing station from Wednesday, 17 April 2019.

"Without reduced water consumption, we will be in the same situation as Southern Downs Regional Council which includes our residents in Jennings who are now at Level 5 extreme restrictions, where use for everything apart from domestic use is banned with a target of 120 litres per person per day."

Water mains cleaning a health issue

Meanwhile council's chief executive Terry Dodds addressed concerns raised by residents of the water wasted in the current mains-cleaning exercise, say that it's a necessary process to maintain healthy drinking water despite the drought.

"Council is committed to ensuring community health and acts upon water test results, including bacteriological, chlorine, as well as elements, pH etc., to ensure the integrity of the potable supply," he said.

"When these water tests indicate the water quality is close to failing council employs a series of processes, including air scouring. We have no choice, as the health of the community is paramount."

The air scour process is being used to dislodge the sediment buildup (generally algae and scale) inside the mains as it's considered the best way to clean out the ageing pipe infrastructure. 

Due to the high pressure used to blow out sediment at the wash-out point it is not possible to collect the water due to safety concerns. Mr Dodds said that after this initial burst, flushing is required to ensure all debris is removed and this cleaner water is being collected in a water tanker and recycled back to the dam supply.