Council pauses to ‘properly consider’ chlorine-free trial
A DECISION on whether Mossman can become the first town in Australia to trial a chlorine-free water supply cannot be hurried despite community expectation it should proceed immediately, according to Cairns Regional Council.
CRC’s general manager of waste and water Bruce Gardner is currently reviewing a 180-page report by international consultancy firm, Black & Veatch, about the feasibility of conducting a safe trial.
He says it is impossible to give a “yes or no answer” without fully understanding the complex and technical detail of the report.
“I understand the community’s frustration but the report has to be thoroughly reviewed and the Water Reference Group will be closely involved in those discussions, as it has been for several years,” Mr Gardner said.
Meanwhile, fluoride is now being added to local water supplies in line with the State Government’s directive. In the absence of a response by Premier Anna Bligh to a request to defer fluoridation for two years, the council would have breached the law had it not met the December 31 deadline.
The council still hopes to recoup a $270,000 shortfall in state funding to cover the cost of building and commissioning equipment to administer fluoride at Mossman and Whyanbeel.
A summary of the Black & Veatch report will be provided to councillors ahead of a January 27 meeting but community representatives will not get a chance to digest the information until the Water Refer- ence Group meets on February 11.
Mr Gardner said the deferment was prompted by a desire to involve water treatment specialist Dr Jonathan Clement, who coauthored the report, while he was in Australia.
Among many issues, the report highlighted the need to gain a better understanding of the current water supply system before any proposed trial began. For example, one of the recommendations included routine sampling of the raw water supply in Rex Creek.
“The report says the raw water supply is not as microbiologically pure as has been assumed in a number of previous reports,” Mr Gardner said.
“Understandably, current testing focuses on treated water supply quality but it makes sense that in order to trial a new system, a better handle of the characterisation of the raw water is needed.
“It might be frustrating but we’ve got to get across those details before jumping in the deep end. We’ve only got one shot at this so we have to get it right,” he said.
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