The 4350water Blog highlights some of the issues relating to proposals for potable reuse in Toowoomba and South East Qld. 4350water blog looks at related political issues as well.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Toowoomba Regional Council election 2012 ...

All the candidates for the Toowoomba Regional Council election on 28 April 2012:

Mayoral Candidates

SPENCER, Philip John
BERRY, Rob
ANTONIO, Paul
HALES, Nicholas
TAYLOR, Peter
RAMIA, Joe

Councillor candidates

BRYANT, Gregory
HEMMING, Andrew
CAMPBELL, David
SOMMERFIELD, Nancy
MCEVOY, Jim
MITCHELL, Phoebe
KUCKS, Andrew
MARKS, Peter
SCOTNEY, Ros
WILLIAMS, Mike
DEAN, Lyn
WILSON, Peter
GLASHEEN, Anne
GOULDSON, John
STROHFELD, Noel
TAYLOR, Carol
BARRON, Graham
ENGLART, Sue
MANNERS, F.P.'Snow'
MCDONALD, Geoff
SMITH, Mick
KING, Anthony
CAHILL, Bill
O'HARA SULLIVAN, Megan
CASS, Noel
ALROE, Michele
GOLDSWORTHY, Bob
CHOAT, Murray
RUSHBY, Bernie
TAIT, Chris
KING, Paul Bernnhard

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Toowoomba recycled water debate - turns out it was OK to say NO ...

5 years on:


The Chronicle - Recycled water poll: five years on.

The Chronicle - Photo gallery - Recycled water poll.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anna Bligh's controversial photo shoot during Cyclone Yasi ...

Before and after photos ....





See - Bligh under pressure after taxpayer funded trip to Brisbane for photo shoot.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Toowoomba dam levels top 100% ...

See - Toowoomba dam levels - 99.8%.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Toowoomba dam levels hit 70% ...

See - WIN News - Toowoomba dam levels reach 70%.

See - The Chronicle - Perseverance dam overflows.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memo to Anna Bligh: The 12 days of Christmas 2010 ...

On the first day of Christmas
the rain Gods gave to me
An overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the second day of Christmas
the environment gave to me
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the third day of Christmas
the Council gave to me
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the fourth day of Christmas
the weather gave to me
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the fifth day of Christmas
the government’s waste gave to me
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the sixth day of Christmas
the QWC gave to me
NEWater secretly dumped
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the seventh day of Christmas
the government gave to me
Carbon capture cancelled
NEWater secretly dumped
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the eighth day of Christmas
the government’s spending cuts gave to me
Brisbane poo water ceasing
Carbon capture cancelled
NEWater secretly dumped
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the ninth day of Christmas
the taxpayers gave to me
Nine billion on a water grid
Brisbane poo water ceasing
Carbon capture cancelled
NEWater secretly dumped
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the tenth day of Christmas
the summer storms gave to me
Ten and 30 percent dam water
Nine billion on a water grid
Brisbane poo water ceasing
Carbon capture cancelled
NEWater secretly dumped
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge staying
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the eleventh day of Christmas
the government’s bungling gave to me
Tugun desal mothballed
Ten and 30 percent dam water
Nine billion on a water grid
Brisbane poo water ceasing
Carbon capture cancelled
NEWater secretly dumped
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge remains
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

On the twelfth day of Christmas
the voters gave to me
Bligh’s approval rating plummets
Tugun desal mothballed
Ten and 30 percent dam water
Nine billion on a water grid
Brisbane poo water ceasing
Carbon capture cancelled
NEWater secretly dumped
Five miniature gnomes
No more four minute showers
$320 water access charge remains
A couple of happy Lungfish
And an overflowing Wivenhoe Dam

Merry Christmas ...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Toowoomba dam levels hit 42.1% ...

See - Toowoomba dam levels at 42.1%.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The questions Anna Bligh doesn't want you to ask about SEQ water ...

Excerpt from Courier Mail:

14 December 2010

ESTIMATES PREPARATION 2010, POSSIBLE QUESTIONS

Funding and staffing

What were staff levels last year?

What are staffing levels this year?

How much is staffing to cost the taxpayer this financial year and what is the difference between this and last financial year figures?

What is the difference in total funding between this year and last year?

Why do you need $28 million when the premier said the role of the QWC was being scaled back?

How many consultants and contractors do you still have on the books?

Why did you pay three commissioners given you now think you can achieve your goals with only one?

Where will the $22 million in savings over four years been cut from?

Isn't it just cost shifting by removing the CER corporate services arms of the QWC to DERM while also committing to no job losses?

How many consultants and contractors are being moved over to DERM as part of this restructure?

Why did you spend $2.3 million on new HQ when your role is winding back so much and it is half empty because of resignations and the termination of a number of contracts?

COMMUNICATIONS CAMPAIGNS

Please detail what the $363,000 was spent on in relation to PRW?

Please detail why $14,000 was spent on five miniature gnomes?

How much was spent on PRW bottled water in the past financial year?

How much did you spend on producing, bottling labelling storing and later trashing thousands of dollars of Bundamba (PRW promotional) Bottled Water?

How many bottles did you produce?

Why did you secretly pay someone to dump them as landfill - because of the government's dramatic backflip on PRW?

How much did you spend on market research and phone surveys on PRW attitudes in the days after the desalination announcement when government polling showed they were facing disaster if they pushed through with desalination?

How much did it cost to staff PRW stalls at events and how many bottles you hand out?

How much did the production of the PRW DVD cost and how many were actually distributed?

How much was spent on market research?

REFORMS

How much has it cost to separate distribution and retails functions from councils?

Have you been satisfied with the performance of Seqwater, the Water Grid Manager, WaterSecure and Linkwater given the multitude of problems with the Grid?

How many in these organisations are on $100,000 a year salary or above - I understand there is a substantial portion - particularly in the media areas and particularly in Water Secure.

Why is this necessary given all media has been centralised to the Grid Manager - you have dozens of media executives at each of the organisations with 'nothing to do'?

WATER PRICES

Why has the government instructed the QWC not to revise the bulk water price path drawn up in 2008 to 'pay for the $9 billion water grid' when the water grid is now a $6.9 billion grid?

Isn't this the QWC effectively ripping off the water retailers and their customers 20% because the bulk prices are still based on a $9 billion Grid - aren't we paying off a dam that's not going to be built?

Will you be refunding this overcharge to the retailers who have been paying these inflated bulk water prices since November's Traveston decision?

Are there or were there ever plans to abandon the 10-year price path? Isn't it right you were in discussions with Treasury to change the price back to five-years so you would be free to jack up the prices substantially much sooner?

PRW (Recycled Water)

How much has the Independent Expert Panel cost in the past year?

Why did the high-profile member Professor Ian Frazer resign from the Panel?

Is it because of a major falling out with the CEO John Bradley?

See - Courier Mail - Questions about water the Bligh Government feared would be asked at estimates hearings.

See also - Courier Mail - Secret dossier exposes water woes dogging Bligh Government.


The answers would be illuminating ...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Tugan desalination plant, SEQ recycled water plants to be mothballed ...

5 December 2010

The troubled Tugan Desalination Plant is now a $1.2 billion white elephant, with the Bligh Government also forced to mothball hundreds of millions of dollars worth of other plants in a desperate bid to cut water bills.
...

The desal plant on the Gold Coast, which has been plagued by rusting and cracking problems since it opened last year, will be shut down early next year, along with half the $380 million Bundamba treatment plant and the new $313 million plant at Gibson Island.
...

See - Courier Mail - Tugan Desalination Plant to be mothballed, execs face axe in bid to cut water bills.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Anna Bligh's Barrier 1 for recycled water is a myth ...

See - Courier Mail - Illegal dumping of oils and chemicals down city sewers causes major network blockages.

So much for 'we can stop chemicals and other harmful products entering the sewage system' ...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Toowoomba Regional Council shifts to medium level water restrictions ...

See - Toowoomba Regional Council - Medium Level water restrictions - 21 October 2010.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Toowoomba Regional Council forgets to ask for free excess Wivenhoe water ...

Excerpt from the Chronicle:

19 October 2010

Toowoomba Regional Council failed to ask the State Government to waive water charges for the excess water it wanted to pump to Toowoomba when Wivenhoe Dam began overflowing.

Minister for Natural Resources Stephen Robertson said council last week only asked to increase the volume of water that could be pumped to Cressbrook Dam through the Wivenhoe Pipeline.

“No request was made for the waiving of the variable water charge,” Mr Robertson has revealed.
...

Cr Antonio said he could not comment on why the government wasn't initially asked to temporarily waive the cost of water because he was not involved in the negotiations.
...

See - The Chronicle - Minister waives excess water fees.

Oops ...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Anna Bligh backflip - Toowoomba now allowed access to excess Wivenhoe Dam water ...

Faced with growing opposition to their refusal to allow Toowoomba access to excess Wivenhoe Dam water, the Bligh government has quickly relented. Toowoomba will now be granted access to additional water beyond the current 10,000ML annual limit.

SEQ's Grid Twelve dams are now shown on the SEQ Water website as being 100% full. Bligh's refusal to allow Toowoomba access to this water meant that it would be released into the Brisbane river and out to sea.

Anna Bligh and her Minister for Natural Resources, Stephen Robertson, were caught in a morally indefensible position. After lauding the benefits of a water grid and the ability to shift water to where it was needed, they wouldn't allow Toowoomba access to additional water to provide for its water security - water which the Bligh government was going to pour down the drain.

Another monumental mistake from a deeply unpopular government.

The Bligh government's decision was ridiculed over the weekend in feedback comments on the Courier Mail website and business leaders had commenced calling for a review of this decision.

The backflip came quickly. Toowoomba will now be allowed access to excess Wivenhoe water.

No other decision was possible - if the Bligh government didn't want to spend the next month being criticised and ridiculed in the press.

And with the public float of QR National underway, the Bligh government can't afford any media distractions.

Excerpt from ToowoombaNews.com.au:

11 October 2010

Wivenhoe Overflow Tops Up Toowoomba

Toowoomba Regional Council has been given the go-ahead by the State Government to access additional water from the overflowing Wivenhoe Dam.

Council asked for more water beyond its initial requested allocation because our main storage, Cressbrook Dam, is under 25 per cent capacity.

Business leaders expressed dismay that the city may not have been able to take advantage of the extra water spilling out of Wivenhoe.

But Minister for Natural Resources Stephen Robertson announced today (October 11) that the extra water at current rates was a "common sense solution" for Toowoomba.

"Wivenhoe Dam is currently spilling around 24,000 megalitres a day. That will continue for the next few days," Mr Robertson said.

"One of the strengths of the South East Queensland Water Grid is that it enables us to move water around to where it is needed, and in this instance, we will make more available for Toowoomba," he said.
...

For the full story, see - ToowoombaNews.com.au - Wivenhoe Overflow Tops Up Toowoomba.

Also see - Brisbane Times - Kilcoy cut off by floods.

Also see - Courier Mail - Southeast Queensland dam levels to guarantee drinking water until 2021.

Also see - Courier Mail - Excess water from Wivenhoe Dam pumped along pipeline to Toowoomba's Cressbrook Dam.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Anna Bligh prefers to let excess Wivenhoe dam water go down the drain ...

... than give it to Toowoomba.

See - Win News - Fight for free water.

Also see - WIN News - Dam anger.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

QWC's and Anna Bligh's $1.15 million bill for failed recycled water PR experiment ...

Excerpt from Sunday Mail

Queensland Government's PR bill for recycled water hard to swallow

Sunday Mail

3 October 2010

It is the $1 million taxpayer-funded shopping list that could be mistaken for a party planner's inventory rather than a government PR campaign.

Queensland Water Commission staff forked out more than $1.15 million in a futile bid to convince southeast Queenslanders to drink recycled water.

Tens of thousands of dollars was splurged on cold rooms, Eskies, tables and chairs, cups, shot glasses and marquees as it carted recycled water samples across the region.

Documents obtained under Right to Information laws revealed a PR campaign expense list that continued even after Premier Anna Bligh mothballed the $1.5 billion recycled water pipeline in 2008.

But the QWC has rejected claims it wasted funds.

Documents show the Water Commission spent $215,000 on importing about 80,000 bottles of recycled water from Singapore, as well as producing 76,500 of its own bottles of purified recycled water from its Bundamba treatment plant.

The cost of the Singaporean bottled water was $115,000. More than $7000 was spent on shipping the bottles.
...

See - Sunday Mail - Queensland Government's PR bill for recycled water hard to swallow.

Next time Anna Bligh bleats about everyone needing to be environmentally friendly (while shipping as much coal overseas as possible), remember she was buying water in Singapore and having it shipped to Brisbane ... and then pouring it down the drain ...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anna Bligh destroys thousands of bottles of her 'NEWater' recycled water ...

Excerpt from Sunday Mail:

22 August 2010

Tens of thousands of bottles of purified recycled water from Queensland's mothballed recycled water pipeline have been secretly destroyed by the Bligh Government.

The Sunday Mail can reveal the State Government had planned a taxpayer-funded publicity campaign centred on handing out thousands of bottles of water from the largely idle $1.5 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, in a last-ditch bid to convince Queenslanders that treated effluent was safe to drink.

But the bottles of water - at least 40,000 - were never distributed. Instead they were stored in a warehouse before being secretly destroyed in May at a waste facility in Ipswich, west of Brisbane.
...

See - Sunday Mail - Bligh Government bungle over bottled recycled water.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Anna Bligh wasting $40,000 in recycled water every day ...

Excerpt from Courier Mail:

14 August 2010

Almost $40,000 worth of water a day is being flushed by the State Government as it refuses to use its flagship recycling pipeline to supply households.

The Courier-Mail can reveal 33 million litres of water a day are being passed through the high-priced purification process and then ditched in the Brisbane River.

The 33ML would be valued at nearly $15 million a year if sold to council-run retailers at the current wholesale price, rising to in excess of $73 million based on the rate at which it is sold on to households.
...

See - Courier Mail - Queensland wasting $40,000 in recycled water every day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Qld Natural Resources Minister tells lungfish to please swim away from recycled water ...

Excerpt from Courier Mail:

12 August 2010

In a bizarre response to revelations the vulnerable species has emerged in Brisbane's main water supply, Mr Robertson insisted the lungfish could push off elsewhere if they didn't like recycled water.

But Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett yesterday revealed the Commonwealth would now have to consider the impacts on the lungfish and warned the recycled water pipeline could be the one threatened if it adversely affect the species.

See - Courier Mail - Stephen Robertson says lungfish at Wivenhoe Dam can just shove off.

Toowoomba Regional Council restarts city fountains ...

... Toowoomba's water woes must be over ...

See - The Chronicle - Fountains to flow again.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lungfish in Wivenhoe Dam set to destroy Anna Bligh's potable reuse dream ...

Excerpt from Courier Mail:

11 August 2010

The secret discovery of lungfish in the Wivenhoe Dam has cast grave doubt over the Bligh Government's ability to ever switch on the $2 billion recycled water pipeline without harming the vulnerable species.

The Courier-Mail has learnt that lungfish eggs and fingerlings were discovered in the dam in September last year just a short distance from the recycled water outlet.

Authorities have since been scrambling to work out what impact changes in water temperature and phosphate levels from recycled water would have on the lungfish population.

Any impact on the lungfish could reduce the pipeline to a multibillion-dollar infrastructure white elephant.
...

The Government yesterday insisted it has not considered moving the recycled water outlet and there was no evidence the lungfish would be affected if it were used.

However, internal briefing notes obtained by The Courier-Mail show authorities were clueless about the impact and would have to research it throughout this year.
...

However, the internal briefing paper from May prepared for Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson shows Seqwater was concerned about the lungfish discovery at Logan's Inlet.

"The location of the 2009 eggs was within 100-150 metres of the discharge pipe for purified recycled water,'' the paper said. "Work will need to be undertaken to determine any future impact.''
...


See - Courier Mail - Lungfish set to destroy Anna Bligh's potable reuse dream.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Qld Water Commission's SEQ water strategy ...

The Queensland Government has announced that up to 32 000 megalitres per year of additional water supplies will be made available for rural production from the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, outside times of severe drought.

July 2010 - read it here - QWC Water Strategy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Qld's Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy ...

Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy

The purpose of the Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy is to prevent salt produced through coal seam gas (CSG) activities from contaminating the environment and encourage the beneficial use of treated CSG water.

The policy deals with:

- use of CSG water
- evaporation dams
- design standards for CSG water aggregation and brine dams
- transitional arrangements for existing dams
- management of saline effluent and solid salt wastes from water treatment and evaporation processes.

The policy deals with issues raised in the Queensland Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy, October 2008, and relates to the amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 enacted in the South-East Queensland Water (Distribution and Retail Restructuring) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2010. The policy finalises the discussion paper published by the Department of Infrastructure and Planning titled, Management of Water Produced from Coal Seam Gas Production Discussion Paper, May 2009.

See - Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy.

Qld Coal Seam Gas - Companies Compelled to Change Water Storage Practices ...

Ministerial Press Release:

Friday, June 11, 2010

GAS COMPANIES COMPELLED TO CHANGE WATER STORAGE PRACTICES

The State Government has moved to further tighten restrictions on the storage and handling of coal seam gas water.

Acting Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk today released a new policy that will ensure that dams used to aggregate and store CSG water or brine are built to best practice environmental management standards.

Ms Palaszczuk said the application of these standards demonstrated the State Government’s commitment to ensuring that salt produced through CSG activities did not impact on the environment.

“Last week, I travelled to Roma for a first-hand look at Queensland’s emerging coal seam gas industry and better understand the potential environmental impacts that need to be avoided and minimised,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“During my visit, the management of water from CSG activities rang loud and clear as an issue in the community.

“The State Government has already moved to safeguard the environment from this risk.

“Legislation passed last month prevents the construction of new evaporation dams for the disposal of CSG water in production fields.

“It follows a range of other restrictions and requirements Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson had announced for the CSG industry.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the new policy requires that:

· Existing evaporation dams be modified so that their primary use is for aggregation of water for treatment and beneficial use rather than evaporation; and

· Aggregation dams will have to be fully lined and have leak detection systems to facilitate repair; and

· Brine dams (for CSG waste water after treatment) will have even stricter standards requiring double layered linings and leak detection systems.

“Through this new policy, we want to see the CSG industry use this water, first and foremost, for the benefit of the wider community,” she said.

“Preferred uses of treated coal seam gas water under the policy will include aquaculture, coal washing and other industrial uses, irrigation and livestock watering and dust suppression.

“The policy includes a hierarchy of acceptable solutions for the management, treatment and disposal of brine and solid salt residue resulting from the treatment of coal seam gas water.

“The highest and most desirable level in the hierarchy would see brine and solid salt residues chemically processed or treated to create useable products, such as soda ash, that can then be used in other industrial processes.

“The least desirable outcome and the lowest level in the hierarchy is for the brine or solid salt residues to be disposed of to an existing or purpose built regulated waste disposal facility.

“We have set these high standards based on international best practice for storing and handling CSG water.

“The coal seam gas industry has the potential to create thousands of new jobs for Queenslanders.

“However, as a responsible environmental regulator, we will ensure the industry does the right thing to protect the environment.

“There must be sensible, environmentally sustainable water storage, treatment and handling in the CSG industry.

“Companies who fail to comply with these tough new standards can face penalties in excess of $2 million.”

The Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy can be found at www.derm.qld.gov.au.

See - Companies Compelled to Change Water Storage Practices.

Queensland's new Coal Seam Gas Water Policy ...

Excerpt from Hansard - 11 June 2010

Coal Seam Gas Water

Hon. A PALASZCZUK (Inala--ALP) (Minister for Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs) (9.54 am):

Last week I travelled to Roma for a firsthand look at Queensland’s emerging coal seam gas industry and to better understand the potential environmental impacts that need to be avoided and minimised.


During my visit the management of water from CSG rang loud and clear as an issue in the community.

People are rightly concerned about how this water will be safely stored and handled without impacting on the surrounding environment.The state government has already moved to safeguard the environment from this risk. Legislation passed last month prevents the construction of new evaporation dams for the disposal of CSG water in production fields. It followed a range of other restrictions and requirements mines and energy minister, Stephen Robertson, had announced for the CSG industry.

Today, the state government further tightens the restrictions on CSG water. I table a new policy on water management for the industry to ensure salt produced through the CSG process does not impact on the environment.

Tabled paper: Department of Environment and Resource Management, Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy, June 2010.

I confirm this policy will apply to the regulation of all LNG proponents. Through this new policy we want to see CSG use this water first and foremost for the benefit of the wider community. Preferred users of treated coal seam gas water under the policy will include aquaculture, coal washing and other industrial uses, irrigation and livestock watering and dust suppression.

The policy includes a hierarchy of acceptable solutions for the management, treatment and disposal of brine and solid salt residue resulting from the treatment of the coal seam gas water. The highest and most desirable level in the hierarchy would see brine and solid salt residues chemically processed or treated to create usable products such as soda ash that can be used in other industrial processes.

The least desirable outcome and the lowest level in hierarchy is for the brine or solid salt residues to be disposed of to an existing all-purpose built regulated waste disposal facility.

Where the highest and most desirable level in the hierarchy is not chosen, the operator of a CSG project will need to demonstrate that this option is not feasible for sound environmental, technical or economic reasons.

Disposal of untreated coal seam gas water by discharging into surface waters or onto land is not supported.

I have been out there and as a government we are keen to see this industry grow alongside existing agricultural and other industries. We understand the benefits of this industry, but we have now introduced strict above-ground environmental conditions which the companies must adhere to.

See - Hansard - 11 June 2010.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

4350water blog updates via Twitter ...

4350water blog updates are also on Twitter - 4350water - Twitter.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toowoomba NO vote win in 2006 means greater access to water for all in 2010 ...

UPDATED:

The Wivenhoe pipeline water is flowing and replenishing one of Toowoomba's three dams.

It's been an arduous (almost) five years since the debate over Toowoomba's water sources began. A failed attempt to construct a recycled water plant for Toowoomba. A referendum which overwhelmingly defeated the proposal. A former Mayor who went to hide in Tasmania. Political buck passing and hidden agenda. But finally a solution.

It might not be everyone's ideal solution.

The YES voters will say it's too expensive to pump water up from Wivenhoe Dam.

The NO voters will say there's still a risk of recycled water going into Wivenhoe Dam.

It's not possible to completely satisfy everyone, particularly given the animosity between opponents which still exists in Toowoomba. An enduring discontent caused by the proposal by the Qld Government and the former Toowoomba City Council to use Toowoomba as an initial experiment for a broader rollout of recycled water for drinking. The mere mention of the topic of water still results in a flurry of letters to the Chronicle.

To the YES voters - the recycled water plant was overwhelmingly rejected by a majority of voters at the 2006 Referendum. That's democracy - live with it. The recycled water, chlorination and fluoride mistakes and accidents that have occurred in recent times in Brisbane and the Gold Coast show that people were right to be cautious about the Government's ability to properly manage these projects.

To the NO voters - the Wivenhoe pipeline was one of the NO Case alternative water source options for the 2006 Referendum. It might not have been the option at the top of some people's lists but it was on the list. Brisbane dam levels are over 96% - the 40% trigger point for recycled water seems some time away, possibly after the next State election, depending on water usage and rain. The trigger point may always change depending on the political wind blowing at the time.

To both the YES and NO voters - any water source solution was going to be expensive. The rejected recycled water plant would have cost far in excess of the amount claimed by the former Toowoomba City Council. One of the problems is that the Qld government has wasted so much money in recent years, it has to force the Toowoomba ratepayers to bear a disproportionate amount of the Wivenhoe pipeline cost burden - something which is at odds with other State government sponsored infrastructure projects.

Toowoomba never ran out of water as foreshadowed by those favouring a recycled water solution but, three and a half years on from the 2006 Referendum, Toowoomba's dam catchment areas still haven't received sufficient rain to replenish the dams. Toowoomba has been able to rely on bore water to supplement its water supplies and can continue to do so. However, access to Wivenhoe water allows a greater degree of comfort that Toowoomba's water needs are covered - until such time as sufficient rain does fall. The need for additional water sources is especially relevant given the desire of both the Qld government and the Toowoomba Regional Council for further development and further increases in population.

An interesting recent statistic from The Australian:

"Australia-wide, once smaller industrial and bore-water purification plants are counted, 294 desalination plants are already in operation, with 976 more under construction and another 925 in planning."

The number of recycled water plants in operation, under construction and in planning is miniscule by comparison. The 2006 Referendum in Toowoomba has played no small part in the decision by governments to use desalination as a future water source. Desalination is being marketed as a 'rain independent source of water'. Unlike claims that recycled water is 'rain independent', this is actually true.

Recycled water proponents were caught out when claiming it would never rain again while advocating a rain dependent water source. You can't have it both ways.

As the drought continued and people's water consumption decreased, the figures for the rejected Toowoomba recycled water plant looked worse and worse.

In the end, to support the former Toowoomba City Council's output projections, it would have needed to produce more recycled water than the amount of sewage it was taking in - an impossibility - futher evidence that the proposal was doomed from the start and its rejection by Toowoomba's voters was the correct choice ...

Brisbane dam levels approach 97% ...

As at 12 March 2010 - 96.9%.

See - SEQwater - dam levels.

Time to get the Wivenhoe-Toowoomba pipeline working again ...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Wivenhoe-Toowoomba pipeline stops pumping ...

6 March 2010

Toowoomba's pipeline has not been working for 10 days, but ratepayers won’t have to cover the cost to fix it.

Toowoomba Regional Council director of water and wastewater services Kevin Flanagan said the closure was due to a flow issue at the Wivenhoe pump station.

“There was a failure in the flow meter and all repairs are being done by the Toowoomba Pipeline Alliance,” he said. “It is expected to be repaired as soon as possible.”
...

See - The Chronicle - Flow issue shuts down pipeline.

Gold Coast desal plant keeps pumping ...

7 March 2010

Despite serious flooding in much of Queensland last week the state’s desalination plants are still pumping out water, under construction, or on the drawing board.

The combined Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine dam levels in the Greater Brisbane area reached more than 85 per cent capacity during the deluge. Flooding occurred in parts of South-East Queensland and the Hinze Dam in the Gold Coast hinterland and the Baroon Pocket Dam on the Sunshine Coast overflowed.
...

See - Brisbane Times - Water everywhere, and the desal keeps pumping.

Toowoomba dam levels - latest figures ...

See - Toowoomba Regional Council - latest dam levels.

Brisbane dam levels - latest figures ...

See - SEQWater - dam levels.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Turning stormwater into drinking water ...

CSIRO scientists have bottled ‘Recharge’ , pure drinking water that was once stormwater.

“This is an exciting demonstration of the value of stormwater and the drinking water that can be produced from it by using a combination of natural treatment processes and engineered methods,” CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship Urban Water Stream Leader Dr Peter Dillon said.

See - CSIRO - Turning stormwater into drinking water.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Water prices punish Toowoomba ...

Letter to the Editor, The Chronicle

Water prices punish Toowoomba

8 February 2010

Yet again Kerry Shine (TC, 1/02) beats up the voters of Toowoomba who wisely said they did not want to be the 'living laboratory' for a sewage water source still not adopted by any community anywhere in the world, not even Brisbane.

Kerry Shine's State Government has spent $2 billion on the Bundamba recycled water plant but has vowed not to put the water into Wivenhoe Dam until dam levels are below 40 per cent. Why? Is it because recycled water is inferior, dangerous or just a politically unacceptable source of drinking water? He has wasted $2 billion and lectures us about money!

Kerry forgets the new Wivenhoe pipeline was originally costed at $115 million at the time the recycled water plant, capable of supplying only half the amount of water, was costed at $90 million.

The cost of water rates in Toowoomba are inflated beyond reality to set a precedence for expensive water in south-east Queensland to make the sale of the SEQ water grid to foreign corporations (privatisation) more profitable.

If Kerry Shine wants to truly represent the people of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs then he should urge the Premier and treasurer to refer Toowoomba Regional Council's monopolistic water pricing to the Queensland Competition Authority for price monitoring under s23A.

It seems strange that his Government has chosen to refer 10 SEQ Council's to the QCA for analysis and ignored the Toowoomba Region which is by far the most expensive.

Don't throw stones at the citizens Kerry, just do your job in representing their wishes.

SM
Toowoomba

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wivenhoe - Toowoomba pipeline pumping beyond expectations ...

The Chronicle:

Downpour flows into dams

16 February 2010

Almost five days supply flowed into Toowoomba’s dams thanks to last night’s heavy downpour.

Deputy Mayor and water services portfolio leader Paul Antonio said about 120 megalitres was delivered to Toowoomba’s dams overnight.

The wet weather comes on the back of news that the Wivenhoe pipeline is performing better than its designers anticipated.

Since it was opened, up to 30 megalitres has been delivered to Cressbrook Dam every day, enough to meet demand and offset evaporation.

Acting water services director Alan Kleinschmidt said there had been a noticeable increase in levels at Cressbrook, which at 9am this morning was at nine per cent capacity.

See - Downpour flows into dams.

Treated waste still hard to swallow ...

ABC News:

Treated waste still hard to swallow

1 February 2010

Scientists are questioning the long-term effects of desalination plants, even though they are seen as a 'quick fix' for water shortages in many areas of Australia.

They argue there are financial and environmental costs and one prominent water supply expert says the future lies in Australians putting their fears aside and embracing use of treated sewage.

A desalination plant has just started operating in Sydney and another will be finished soon at Port Stanvac in Adelaide's southern suburbs.

Professor Mike Young, of Adelaide University, questions the benefits.

"It's expensive. It's climate independent but it has some environmental problems and it uses (sic) a lot of greenhouse gases," he said.

What desalination plants put back into the environment is also an issue.

At Point Lowly in South Australia's Spencer Gulf, there is fierce opposition to the effect a proposed BHP-Billiton desalination plant may have on one of Australia's largest giant cuttlefish breeding grounds.

The cost of desalination is also an issue, with household water bills already rising sharply to pay for construction and running of desalination plants.

Alternatives to desalination include stormwater harvesting.

At wetlands in northern Adelaide, about 12 gigalitres of stormwater per year are being stored in underground aquifers for future use.

There are studies under way to see if the stormwater could provide a regular drinking supply.

Common phobia

Professor Young says there could be an even cheaper and more effective option if people overcome over a common phobia of drinking their own treated waste.

"Sewage water is so cheap to process because it has a lot less salt in it and in terms of the energy that's required to take the salt and manure and everything else out of the water is much less," he said.

He says Australians are already unknowingly drinking treated waste from other animals.

"The fish are manuring in the water that's often treated, you have cows walking around in many areas up above the dams putting, letting all their manure run down into the dams," he said.

"We've been treating and removing sewage from our water supplies for at least a century and we'll go on doing that."

Queenslanders have already turned up their noses at the idea of a treated sewage plant at Toowoomba.

But Professor Young says ongoing drought concerns across much of Australia, coupled with population increases, mean treated waste is an idea Australians may eventually have to swallow.

See - Treated waste still hard to swallow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brisbane dam levels at 73.2% ...

... as at 17 February 2010.

See - SEQwater - Brisbane dam levels.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Open warfare - Toowoomba Regional Council splits along integrity lines ...

3 February 2010

Toowoomba's regional councillors have joined forces to isolate maverick councillor Bill Cahill over last week’s pay rise furore.


Cr Cahill said he had not been spoken to by Mayor Peter Taylor or his fellow councillors since his decision to oppose the three per cent pay rise.

The Chronicle has been inundated with letters and text messages in support of Cr Cahill’s stand and critical of the council’s attempt to conceal the increase.

Cr Cahill said he was concerned the split and subsequent “silent treatment” could impact on the council’s ability to function.
...

See - The Chronicle - Cahill frozen out.

Purple pipe debate reignited in Toowoomba ...

3 February 2010

Toowoomba's “purple pipe” recycled water system looks set to be revived from the scrapheap after it was abandoned last year.

Cr Bill Cahill, environment and services portfolio leader, said Toowoomba could not rely on the Wivenhoe Dam pipeline for its long-term water needs.

He admitted he made a mistake voting to scrap the purple pipes and wanted to reignite the debate when council met next week.

“The population growth we’re expecting will demand we don’t rest on our laurels,” he said.

Cr Cahill said the Wivenhoe pipeline gave the region the breathing space needed to solve the health concerns and monitoring costs that led to the scrapping of the purple pipes.

He said the recycled water should be connected to all greenfield developments and the region’s sporting fields, parks and gardens.
...

See - The Chronicle - Councillor revives pipe debate.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Toowoomba Regional Council's Councillor Pay Rise PR disaster ...

What a difference a month or so makes:

12 December 2009:

Earlier this week, the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal announced its decision to recommend an increase in pay levels of local representatives from January 1, 2010.

Councillors Joe Ramia, Ros Scotney, Bill Cahill, Mike Williams and Mayor Peter Taylor said they would vote against accepting the pay rise.

See - The Chronicle - Councillors don't want pay rises.

27 January 2010:

Councillors Joe Ramia, Ros Scotney, Mike Williams and Mayor Peter Taylor: Show us the money - hell yes we want a pay rise.

Councillor Bill Cahill - No, I still don't want a pay rise.

And then the poorly conceived cover up:

Deputy Mayor Antonio and Councillor Marks - 2 + 2 really equals 1 - It was a pay cut.

And: Please feel sorry for us - We're actually taking a pay cut and The Chronicle is really nasty to us.

The facts (courtesy of The Chronicle):

"These are the remuneration numbers for councillors (which include amalgamation loading in brackets):

2008


Mayor … $137,600

Deputy … $96,935

Councillors … $87,560

2009

Mayor … $156,894 ($11,350)

Deputy … $106,115 ($8035)

Councillors … $95,790 ($7200)

2010


Mayor … $158,230 ($8110)

Deputy … $106,910 ($5740)

Councillors … $96,525 ($5145)

Forget about the BlackBerrys or mobile phones, company cars or fuel allowances, laptop or desktop computers and their long list of travel accommodation and meal expenses, councillors appear to be doing very nicely."

Apparently, in the minds of some Councillors, $96,525 is actually less than $95,790.

If it looks like a pay rise and sounds like a pay rise, it probably is a pay rise.

To quote The Chronicle:

"No-one I know gets to tie their wage or salary to CPI or inflation.

To factor them into remuneration to show a “pay cut” is mischievous manipulation of figures.
"

Useless to try to deny it - just digging a bigger hole for themselves.

PR disaster from start to finish.

Politics, even local government politics, is all about perception. These Councillors seem to have forgotten who pays their salaries ...

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