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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Anna Bligh says recycled water won't have fluoride stuff ups ...

Trust us says Anna Bligh.

Recycled water won't have any of the stuff ups that fluoride has had recently.

But if it does, you still can't sue.

Brisbane Times:

Our water is safe: Govt

19 May 2009

The State Government has moved to allay fears the operational failure that led to the release of excess fluoride into Brisbane's drinking water could be repeated when recycled water is introduced to South-East Queensland.

Responding to Opposition claims yesterday that the topping up of Wivenhoe Dam with purified recycled water was prone to similar flaws, the Acting Minister for Natural Resources Geoff Wilson said no link should be drawn with the fluoride debacle.

On the advice of the Queensland Water Commission the Bligh Government has declared that the $2.4bn Western Corridor recycled water project will kick into action when dam storage levels dip to 40 per cent. They are currently at 59.02 per cent.

"There are multiple barriers and critical control points to ensure the safety of the system," Mr Wilson said.

"If recycled water is added to Wivenhoe Dam, it will blend with the dam water and have a residence time in the dam of approximately six months, before it flows to Mt Crosby Weir and then to Mt Crosby Water Treatment Plant.

"The dam water is then treated once again, at an existing water treatment plant."

An investigation is underway into the plant malfunction that allowed 20 times the safe limit of fluoride to be pumped into the water supply and, consequently, into up to 4000 northern Brisbane homes for three hours on May 2.

The Opposition's spokesman for natural resources, Jeff Seeney, said the fluoride overdose - revealed only after testing last week - was a warning of the dangers posed by the future use of recycled water in the south-east corner.

"It demonstrates very clearly that the checks and balances that the government assured us were in place to deal with recycled water could fail just as easily," Mr Seeney said.

"The consequences of a failure with recycled water could be very much more devastating than the failure with fluoride."

"We don't believe that the systems are secure enough. Recycled water should be used for industry and agriculture."

Merilyn Haynes, the convenor of the group Queenslanders for Safe Water, agreed that the botched fluoride release at North Pine Dam should have major implications for the State Government's recycled water plans.

"The equipment failed and the procedures are so inadequate. What is the point of doing daily sampling if they don't test it until 12 days afterwards?" she said.

"In Singapore 99 per cent of recycled water is used for industry. Here they want us to drink it."

Those claims were refuted however by leading microbiologist Dr Helen Stratton, who sits on the advisory board to the Queensland Water Commission. That scientific body has concluded that purified recycled water produced at the Bundamba Water Treatment Plant is safe to go into Wivenhoe Dam.

She said a rigorous seven-step testing system ensured that the adding of recycled water to the water supply was failsafe.

"It's a different process altogether. With the injection of chemicals like fluoride at the end of the process there is no calling the water back," Dr Stratton said.

"Whereas because there are steps if a safety alarm went off in the recycled water process, the system shuts down. There is a lot more safety so if there was operator error, there is a lot more scope to make sure the water doesn't get to the tap."

She insisted though that the excess fluoride release should never have happened and should never happen again.

"For people who don't understand the technology it's easy for them to lose trust," she said.

"It's important that we get the information out there about the technology that's treating the recycled water to say the chances of that happening are as close to zero as you can possibly get because of that seven-barrier process."

See - Brisbane Times - Our water is safe: Govt.

Ah, that seven-barrier process.

The one that starts with the hospitals not putting waste into the sewers.  Sure.

And the one with the membranes that nothing will get through.  Sure.

As time has passed, the seven-barrier process has been shown to be pretty leaky at best ...


Anonymous newswatch said...

Pine Rivers Press:

Health fears over fluoride overdose prevail

19 May 2009

RESIDENTS still fear for their health a week after it was revealed water with up to 40 times the recommended level of fluoride was pumped into two Pine Rivers suburbs.
Warner mother of five Tamara Hamilton said she was concerned for the safety of her infant.

"Everyone in Warner is concerned if it is a one-off thing and whether we need to buy bottled water for our children," Ms Hamilton said. Eatons Hill environmentalist Daniel Boon said the fluoride Brendale and Warner residents were exposed to was equal to 30 fluoride tablets in a glass of water.

The recommended dose of fluoride in water is from 0.8mg/L to 1.5mg/L.
However, Pine Rivers residents received 30mg/L of fluoride in their water on May 1.

"The Premier has denied that there was even a health risk.

"I’d like to see Anna Bligh quaff that," Mr Boon said.

An opponent of fluoridation of the water supply, Mr Boon was sceptical of government claims the accident did not pose a health risk, despite fluoride flowing into homes for three hours on May 1 at up to 40 times the recommended concentration.

"People particularly at risk include diabetics, the kidney-impaired, people with chemical sensitivity and infants with developing teeth," Mr Boon said.

Cashmere resident Melanie Matthias said: "If they can’t get this right then heaven help us when recycled water comes."

AMA Queensland president Dr Chris Davis said high levels of fluoride could cause teeth discoloration and brittleness of bones but that was only after months or years of overdosing.

Dr Davis said short-term effects would be mainly "gastro" and stomach aches and children would be the most prone to these.

"We have had no confirmed reported cases," Dr Davis said.

Moreton Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland supported the call. "Residents deserve answers. Such incidents cannot be allowed to happen again," he said.

SEQwater said it was taking action to ensure it was a one-off incident.

Water Grid manager acting CEO Barry Dennien said parts of Pine Rivers would not receive fluoridated water until the inquiry was over.

He said Brisbane-based International Water Centre CEO Mark Pascoe was conducting the inquiry.

"The independent investigation will examine how the incident occurred and how (North Pine manager) SEQwater can ensure this does not happen again," Mr Dennien said.

He said immediate action had been taken to ensure there was no repeat.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said residents should be able to sue over fluoride bungles.

12:09 PM, May 19, 2009


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