> Why we should watch the flow of our H2O?
Mackay is one of the fastest growing regions in Queensland, and while this growth presents opportunities, it also comes with many challenges - especially when it comes to our H2O!
As our region grows, our community is going to use a lot more water. In order to keep up with the demand, over 400 million dollars will need to be invested in new and existing infrastructure over the next 10 years.
Where does our H2O come from?
Our region extends across 7000 square kilometres, encompassing many communities of all different shapes and sizes. In order to reliably supply water to these communities, water is sourced from 4 rivers and 42 bores.
To ensure our water supply is safe, it is treated at 13 different treatment facilities from which it supplies 11 different water supply areas. With each water source and treatment plant operating at different capacities, water restrictions for each community may vary from time to time - it all depends on where your water comes from.
The largest source of water for the region comes from the Pioneer River. Drawn from the river at Dumbleton Weir, the water is pumped to the Nebo Road Water Treatment Plant. Once treated, it’s then distributed as far south as Armstrong Beach and as far north as Seaforth.
In addition to receiving water from our Nebo Road plant, the communities at Sarina and the surrounding beaches receive treated water from the Mt Blarney Water Treatment Plant sourced from Plane Creek and groundwater bores. Additional bores and treatment plants are spread throughout the community.
Pioneer Valley residents receive water from a number of groundwater bores, treated and pumped from a smaller water treatment facility. Marian and Mirani residents receive treated water from the Marian Water Treatment plant, sourced from the Pioneer River.
The real cost of our H2O
Did you know that it costs $20 million per year just to treat and pump water around our region! It also costs a lot of money to run and maintain a water treatment plant. More water use means more power, chemicals and maintenance, not to mention the infrastructure required to pump it to our homes!
Our water network is over 1000km! Laid end to end, it would reach all the way down to Brisbane – that’s a lot of pipes!
If we understand the real cost of our H2O, we’ll think twice next time we go to waste it! Remember, wasting water wastes a whole lot of opportunities.
How does demand affect our H2O infrastructure?
Living in a hot and humid part of the world, when we get a hot day and all turn on our sprinklers at the same time, the increased demand for water places serious pressure on our infrastructure.
Our water network is built to cope with spikes in demand, like when we all wake up and shower, or when we get home from work and throw on a load of washing, shower and cook dinner, but it’s not built to cope with the demand caused by excessive outdoor water use in summer.
The problem with excessive demand is that our treatment plants can reach pumping capacity. To fix the problem, a new larger water treatment plant and distribution network would be required, just so we can all water our lawn at the same time for a few short weeks in summer.
While the solution sounds simple, it costs a lot of money to build and upgrade our water infrastructure, with costs passed directly on to the community through higher water rates and charges, which is something we all don’t want!
The quality of our H2O
We ensure that our water is of a high quality through rigorous testing performed by our Scientific and Analytical Services department at the Water and Waste Services Laboratory.
Many tests are performed on both our raw and potable water supplies to ensure the water meets the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Sometimes water can taste or appear different depending on where you live within our region. This is because our water is sourced from different supplies and treated at different types of facilities.
Given our water supply's compliance with Queensland's Drinking Water Standards and the Australian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines, there is no real need to use domestic water filters.
Customers considering the purchase of a water filter should carefully evaluate their own needs as well as apparent benefits and relevance of individual units. Mackay Regional Council neither undertakes nor approves of attempts to sell water filters on a "door to door" basis.
However, it should be noted that there are some situations (e.g. industrial applications, medical treatment) where the use of specific, purpose-built water filters is suitable and necessary.
Download the Water Quality and Treatment Fact Sheet for more information.
Do we have fluoride in our H2O?
In 2012, the Government made it optional for councils to fluoridate the public water supply.
Fluoride was officially turned off in the Mackay Region on November 7 2016 as part of a council resolution which was passed on September 24 2016.
For more information on council’s decision to remove fluoride from the region’s water supply, visit Connecting Mackay.
Protecting our H2O
It is important that we protect our water supply to ensure public health and safety. One method is through backflow prevention.
Backflow prevention is the term used to refer to the prevention of an unwanted reverse flow of water from a potentially polluted source into the drinking water supply.
Backflow can be caused by back-siphonage, when water is siphoned from the property, or back-pressure, for example when a pump is connected to the water supply. It poses a public health risk because of a cross connection (e.g. chemicals, pesticides, bacteria and industrial waste) that can flow into the drinking water as a result.
Backflow can be prevented by fitting a backflow prevention device and by ensuring that plumbing systems are correctly designed and operated. A backflow prevention device prevents the unwanted reverse flow of water from a potentially polluted source into the drinking water supply. Cross-connections should be avoided wherever possible, but where they exist they must be fitted with backflow prevention devices.
Download the Backflow Prevention Fact Sheet for more information. Use the Backflow Prevention Device Testing Form when having your device tested annually by certified trades people.