Water level drops as army of experts works on solution

The Tenterfield Dam water level continues to fall, despite the contribution of the Shirley Park bore and the community's adherence to restrictions.
The Tenterfield Dam water level continues to fall, despite the contribution of the Shirley Park bore and the community's adherence to restrictions.

The water level of Tenterfield Dam continues to drop, despite input from the Shirley Park bore and minimal evaporation, coupled with low water consumption.

The dam level has dropped from 35 to 33 per cent in that past five weeks.

Tenterfield Shire Council 's chief executive Terry Dodds and Mayor Peter Petty issued a statement today to assure residents that council is harnessing a wide array of resources to fund an alternative water source.

A range of specialists -- including representatives from the Department of Industry-Water, Department of Health, Natural Resources Access Regulator, the Minister for Water, the Cross Border Commissioner/Regional Town Water Supply Coordinator, specialist hydro geologists, water drillers, and project engineers -- are working with council staff on fast-tracking a solution.


Mr Dodds said it is a race against time to find, extract, pump, and transport more water to the dam, in the absence of significant rain.

"Council has been in direct communication with many community members at multiple public events and continues to welcome suggestions, a number of which are being actively considered.

"During a couple of the more recent public meetings there were suggestions from some astute thinking community members that council would save on evaporation rates by pumping the Shirley Park bore water directly into the water filtration plant. Others in the wider community may have had the same idea.

"This would be a solution in normal circumstances. However, the bore water needs to be mixed, just like a 'shandy', prior to treatment by the water filtration plant, as the water from the bore alone is of low quality as it contains too much naturally occurring fluoride, molybdenum, alkalinity a calcium carbonate, and uranium."

He said the dilution ratio is vast, in the order of 400 kiloliters per day of bore water being added to approximately 450 megalitres of dam water, or one part bore water to 1125 parts dam water.

"Although the mixing ratio in the dam from the entering Shirley Park bore water is enormous, council still tests exiting water from the water filtration plant and will continue to do so to ensure the water complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

"Naturally, without rain, as the dam drops the dilution ratio's favourable influence will diminish which may mean we'll need to turn the bore off or add additional treatments, for example an ioniser."

He also addressed concerns about how the extra work will be funded, during a drought that is hurting many people and businesses. The emergency water augmentation works will cost around $3.2 million.

"Council hasn't the financial capacity to meet such an impost and is sincerely grateful to the Minister for Water, The Hon Melissa Pavey MP, the NSW Government and their Departmental staff for their assistance," Mr Dodds said.

"Mayor Peter Petty and I have been in almost daily contact with the Cross Border Commissioner/Regional Town Water Supply Coordinator regarding emergency funding and funding of the future stages.

"At this stage council has received part funding for the first stage, some $373,000, from the State Government."

Cr Petty moved to assure the community that council is doing everything possible to ensure the sustainability of the Tenterfield water supply.

"We are very aware that everybody is taking this matter very seriously and reducing their water consumption as far as possible," he said.

"Council is doing everything it can to ensure that we don't need to impact our community further."