Barrage gates cause worry

Computer-controlled gates at Rockhampton's barrage open automatically as the level in the storage rises. (File photo)
Computer-controlled gates at Rockhampton's barrage open automatically as the level in the storage rises. (File photo) The Morning Bulletin

FITZROY River Water has joined scientists to reassure customers there has been no change in water quality in Rockhampton after an automatic opening of a gate at Rockhampton Barrage sparked fears.

People living near the barrage were puzzled when the gate opened on June 4 and remained open until June 6, even though there had been no rainfall in the catchment area for a considerable time.

The Morning Bulletin was contacted by residents who were worried that the overspill might have been caused by mine discharges upstream.

Pumping of contaminated mine water into the catchment last year led to thousands of complaints about salty water and a health scare over the nature of contamination.

A statement issued by FRW said the opening of the gate was an automatic process triggered by a rise in the level of water in the barrage impoundment.

“In this particular instance, the operation was in response to a minor flow of water upstream,” it said.

“FRW staff are unaware of any current discharges of mine water into the Fitzroy River catchment and can confirm there has been no change in water quality as a result of this minor flow.”

Scientists working for the Department of Environment and Resource Management confirmed the salinity levels of raw water at the FRW treatment plant were “low to normal”.

The agency - formerly known as the Environmental Protection Agency - said monitoring of water levels in the river system had not shown any significant upstream flows in recent weeks and there had been no reports of rainfall or run-off into the barrage catchment area.

There was no obvious reason for a rise in the water level upstream.

One theory is that there has been a fall in water demand in Rockhampton, which would mean less water being removed for treatment at the plant.

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