Coun­cil pauses to ‘prop­erly con­sider’ chlo­rine-free trial

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE MCKIL­LOP

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.

PHOTO BY SEAN DAVEY

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