Townsville water update – 1400hrs 16 February

Water quality testing continue to show that Townsville City Council’s efforts to address discolouration of water are working, but the process is ongoing.

As announced on Friday, Council has reconfigured water intake levels at Ross River Dam and enhanced treatment processes at the Douglas Water Treatment Plant to mitigate discolouration.

The water continues to meet all applicable health standards and is safe to drink and these changes have resulted in improvements in the colour of the water being distributed throughout the city’s water network.

However, with changes in the weather impacting blue-green algae levels in the dam, it continues to be a balancing act.

Council is working closely with highly-regarded water quality experts, Hunter H2O, to ensure we have the best experts from around Australia working around the clock to resolve the issue.

Some pockets of the city will continue to experience discolouration at times as the system returns to normal.

Residents will see Council crews out flushing water mains to provide further relief from discolouration.

Council thanks the community for their continued patience and understanding.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is the water discoloured?
    • The Ross River Dam, Townsville’s primary water supply, is currently experiencing an outbreak of blue-green algae. Effects of blue-green algae blooms tend to be worsened by hot weather and inflow form recent rainfall.

      While blue-green algae outbreaks are common, this particular bloom is blocking filters and imposing treatment complications at the Douglas Treatment Plant.

      Some microscopic particles of blue-green algae pass through the filters. In addition, the soluble minerals available in the dam due to the bloom,contribute to the discolouration.

  • Is the water safe to drink?
    • Yes, the water is safe to drink and bathe in.

      The network is extensively tested daily to ensure all water meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. We are also working closely with and receiving advice from Queensland Public Health and the Water Supply Regulator. The discolouration is a visual issue and is not a health concern.

  • Is it safe for my pets?
    • Yes.
  • Why are only some suburbs impacted?
    • Different suburbs (and sometimes different streets in larger suburbs) are pumped from various water supplies. Only some suburbs are being affected by the discoloured water and we are working to minimise affected suburbs.
  • How long will this issue of discolouration take to resolve?
    • This issue depends on the weather and environmental conditions causing elevated levels of blue-green algae in the dam. Council is continuing to do everything possible to alleviate the situation and will continue to update the community.
  • Who is testing the water?
    • Townsville Laboratory Services is testing the water multiple times a day. Townsville City Council Laboratory Services is a NATA accredited laboratory (National Association of Testing Authorities).

      Results are confirmed and supplied to Queensland Health (Townsville Public Health Unit) and the Water Supply Regulator’s office.

  • Has this happened before in Townsville?
    • Not to this extent. In late 2018, blue-green algae was detected in and flushed out during the 2019 floods. It was detected again in mid-2019 and numbers have been fluctuating but steadily increasing.
  • Does this happen in other places?
    • Yes. This is a worldwide issue. The long, hot summers experienced worldwide are compounding the problem (Mt Isa have had a bloom since 2014).
  • What is Council doing?
    • Townsville City Council is working to manage the impacts of the blue-green algae bloom.

Download the Discoloured water: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 37.6 KB)

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