High algal bloom in Ross River Dam due to heat wave

Townsville residents are being encouraged to conserve outdoor water use as the city deals with an algal bloom due to the current heat wave.

This algal bloom has resulted in Geosmin and MIB detection which are two harmless, naturally occurring organic compounds. In some parts of the water network across Townsville, this may result in the water having an earthy taste and odour.

These compounds have no health effects, and the water is safe to drink and use for all normal purposes.

Council’s investment in infrastructure for water quality over the past few years has increased the city’s resilience and ability to treat algal blooms in the raw water, but Mayor Jenny Hill said some water conservation measures still need to be taken to reduce water demand.

“We encourage the community to conserve outdoor water use and Council will take the lead by turning off irrigation,” Cr Hill said.

“The community can help by conserving water use around the house. This is as easy as turning off your irrigation when it’s raining and taking shorter showers.

“The predicted rain later this week and into next week will help. Due to the rain at the beginning of this week water demand has reduced in recent days by approximately 50ML/d as residents naturally reduce outdoor use after rain.”

Cr Hill said the summer months increased the risk of algal blooms across the Australia’s warmer regions, including the Ross River dam, and impacted the rate at which water could be treated for the city.

“When algae levels in the dam are high like they are at the moment, it places additional load on the water treatment plant reducing the volume of water we produce for the city and may also impact the taste of the water,” Cr Hill said.

“Managing these tropical blooms can be challenging and council assesses each scenario as it emerges to identify appropriate treatment responses.

“We have implemented several initiatives to minimise the impacts of algal blooms in the dam including working closely with water quality experts to identify algae bloom treatments.

“While we continue to manage the potential impacts of these blooms, we have also invested in improving our water treatment technology and ability to remove impurities.

“The two new clarifiers at the Douglas Water Treatment Plant, one of which commenced commissioning this week, will provide an additional treatment process to help us maintain consistent levels of water supply during these seasonal algae bloom events.”

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