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.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Anna Bligh embarrassed by SEQ water contamination ...

The Australian:

Premier Anna Bligh embarrassed by overdose of flouride in water supply

15 May 2009

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has been severely embarrassed after 20 times the recommended maximum safe dose of fluoride was put into Brisbane's drinking water.

The incident occurred two weeks ago at North Pine Dam, on Brisbane's outskirts, where a treatment plant was shut down for general maintenance but fluoride kept being added automatically to the water.

Consequently, when the plant was turned back on, the water that contained an excessive amount of fluoride was put directly into the water supply of 4000 homes in the suburbs of Warner and Brendale, in Brisbane's north, between 9am and 12pm on May 1.

The concentration of fluoride in the water that flowed directly into households was 30-31mg per litre, while the regulated maximum is 1.5mg per litre.

The incident marks the second water problem for the Bligh Government, which was forced to back down late last year on plans to add recycled effluent to southeast Queensland dams. The plan was deferred in the face of community concerns about the safety of recycled water, but treated effluent will be added to dams when their levels fall to 40per cent.

While all other states have had fluoride in drinking water for years, the matter has always been more contentious in Queensland and fluoride was put into the drinking water in the state's southeast only at the start of this year.

Prolonged exposure to excessive fluoridation leads to gastroenteritis, but Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Jeanette Young, said that authorities did not receive any reports of widespread bouts of the disease at the time.

The error was discovered earlier this week when routine testing showed the high concentrations of fluoride.

Ms Bligh said she was "not happy" with what had happened. "This is unacceptable, and like a lot of Queenslanders, I've got a lot of questions about this," shesaid.

Ms Bligh said that despite fluoride being added to drinking water in various parts of Australia for nearly 50 years using this method, there had never been such an incident and she stressed that the matter would be "properly investigated".

She asked Mark Pascoe, chief executive of the Brisbane-based International Water Centre, to investigate the incident.

One priority of the investigation was establishing how the machinery that added the fluoride in the North Pine Dam treatment plant was not turned off automatically when the whole treatment plant was turned off.

Ms Bligh said the fluoride equipment was now being turned off manually in the other four treatment plants in southeast Queensland where fluoride was being added to the water.

Queenslanders for Safe Water convenor Merilyn Haines ran against Ms Bligh in her seat of South Brisbane to draw attention to the issue of fluoride being added to the water supply. She said yesterday that while she was not surprised by the accident, she was surprised by the way it had happened so soon after the introduction of fluoridation.

"That amount of fluoride is the equivalent of having 120 fluoride tablets in a litre of water, or 30 fluoride tablets in your standard glass," Ms Haines said.

"She's put people's lives at risk. Anyone who drank that water who was an asthmatic was at risk, as was anyone with a kidney disease."

See - The Australian -Premier Anna Bligh embarrassed by overdose of flouride in water supply.


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