Mount Isa Water Board Welcomes Community Forum

Mount Isa Water Board Welcomes Community Forum

Mount Isa Water Board Chair, Rowena McNally, said the Board welcomed the opportunity for open dialogue with the community about the current water situation at a public forum being organised by Mount Isa City Council.

“We acknowledge we have not communicated as well as we should have about the need for reduced water consumption, but we are committed to improving our communication with the community going forward,” Ms McNally said.

“We want to assure the Mount Isa community that our water is safe, and the need for reduced water consumption is so we can continue to provide water that meets Australian health guidelines,” Ms McNally said.

“The forum will allow us to provide important information about factors leading to the current water situation, the present management approach, and our ongoing work towards a long-term solution for the benefit of the Mount Isa community.”

Water filtration system

Ms McNally explained that in late 2013 a filtration system was introduced to address a significant blue-green algae bloom in Clear Water Lagoon, as the lagoon’s natural filtration process had failed.

“The blue-green algae bloom in Clear Water Lagoon is potentially the largest ever recorded in a Queensland water supply system.

“As there was no likelihood that the algae bloom could be resolved within a suitable timeframe, a filtration system was essential and urgently sourced to ensure we could continue to provide Mount Isa residents with safe water.

“We worked in close consultation with Council to select the best, immediate solution available based on average water usage at the lowest possible cost to Council.

“As per our contract with Council, the essential major expense associated with implementing the current filtration system was passed on at cost price.

“As part of our negotiations for new equipment, we have negotiated with the supplier to secure a substantial reduction in charges. The cost has now reduced from $250,000 per month to $10,000 per month, representing a saving to Council of at least $1.19 million this financial year,” she said.

The levy is a matter for Council.

Current water consumption

“Even though we have recently received good rainfall, the current need for reduced water consumption has arisen because recent water usage has exceeded the capacity of the filtration system,” she said.

In recent weeks, a significant increase in water usage to higher than average levels has put substantial pressure on the filtration system.

At the same time, the capacity of the filtration system has been reduced due to the continued expansion of the bluegreen algae bloom and increased organic matter in the water supply caused by recent rain.

Mount Isa Water Board operations and future plans

Ms McNally said ageing infrastructure and increased regulatory and project requirements have increased the complexity of the Mount Isa Water Board’s operations, requiring additional local resources.

“We are committed to operating as efficiently as possible, and the work of our local team of engineers and office staff has greatly reduced the need to rely extensively on fly-in engineering consultants,” she said.

“We are currently implementing a long-term solution to expand our filtration capacity to 22 mega litres per day.

This will increase the amount of water we can provide for local usage, which should hopefully avoid the need for further restrictions, subject to rainfall.

“New, permanent micro-filtration water treatment equipment will be introduced in March and be fully operational by July.

“We would like to thank the community for its help and cooperation during this time and I look forward to responding to any further questions at the community forum,” Ms McNally said. —