Coun­cil kills anti-chlo­rine

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

“The ra­tio­nale for the de­ci­sion ap­pears to be based on costs, but those cost cal­cu­la­tions don’t ap­pear to be en­tirely ra­tio­nal.”

Coun­cil es­ti­mates pre­par­ing for a chlo­rine-free trial, in­clud­ing thor­oughly flush­ing the mains and seal­ing the 10ML reser­voir at the Moss­man treat­ment plant, would cost at least $2.75 mil­lion.

This is more than three times the cost es­ti­mate by coun­cil’s con­sul­tant Black & Veatch, which thought prepara­tory work for the trail would cost around $820,000.

The coun­cil es­ti­mate in­cludes $1.7 mil­lion of works which crit­ics say should be part of a main­te­nance pro­gram, such as flush­ing the pipe net­work, re­plac­ing two-thirds of the fire hy­drants in Moss­man and re­plac­ing or re­pair­ing the reser­voir roof.

For­mer mayor of the Dou­glas Shire Mike Ber­wick chal­lenged coun­cil to pro­vide rev­enue data for the wa­ter sup­ply net­work. He said many of the works pro­posed by coun­cil “should be done any­way or are un­nec­es­sary”.

“For ex­am­ple, re-roof­ing the reser­voirs should have hap­pened long ago, as soon as they dis­cov­ered rats and birds could get into them,” Mr Ber­wick said.

“When a pri­vate per­son in­stalls a wa­ter tank, they are re­quired by law to make them mos­quito proof (be­cause of dengue and the like) let alone rat-proof.

“An­other ex­am­ple is flush­ing and/or scour­ing the mains to re­move sed­i­ment.

“If there is sed­i­ment in the pipes they should be flushed re­gard­less of whether chlo­rine is used or not.”

Aus­tralia’s top wa­ter sci­en­tist Pro­fes­sor Don Bur­sill agrees.

“If the sys­tem is so loaded up with crap, it needs to be cleaned out ef­fec­tively whether or not the sys­tem is to be run with­out chlo­rine,” Prof Bur­sill said.

Prof Bur­sill also re­jected the sug­ges­tion the Moss­man treat­ment plant needed fur­ther up­grad­ing to deal with the raw wa­ter.

“It would be highly un­likely that the source wa­ter would con­tain suf­fi­cient lev­els of DOC to be a show stop­per for a chlo­rine free sys­tem,” he said.

Mr Gar­diner said seal­ing the reser­voirs and high-pres­sure flush­ing of the mains would im­prove the chances for suc­cess of the trial, but would not be nec­es­sary if the sys­tem re­mained chlo­ri­nated.

“A lot of th­ese works would need to be done (with or with­out chlo­rine),” Mr Gar­diner said.

“The reser­voir roof, we think it’s pretty solid for a chlo­ri­nated sys­tem.”

Mr Gar­diner said coun­cil would not re­place the reser­voir roof if the chlo­rine-free trial did not go ahead.

Di­vi­sion 10 coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said she was very dis­ap­pointed and frus­trated that coun­cil had de­cided not to pro­ceed with the trial fol­low­ing four con­sul­tancy re­ports over the past two years.

“I think Mike Ber­wick raises some valid points, and coun­cil should have sought an­swers to those be­fore mak­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion,” she said.

“Res­i­dents of Dou­glas are ex­pected to pay for multi-mil­lion dol­lar projects in other parts of the Cairns re­gion.

“I think res­i­dents are out­raged that reser­voirs are still vul­ner­a­ble to con­tam­i­na­tion. We’ve spent nearly two years to get here, and we’ve fi­nally got a way for­ward, a road map to de-chlo­ri­na­tion.

“I’m not pre­pared to ac­cept this is the end of the road.”

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