Claims salt damaging gardens

HIGH levels of salt in the Rockhampton and Yeppoon water supply may be damaging local back yard gardens, according to nursery owner Neil Fisher.

State Government records show that the level of salinity in the Fitzroy River, which supplies the region's potable water, has more than doubled in the past six months.

Mr Fisher said the salty water could be damaging home gardens around the region, with local gardeners reporting browning off of leaves, flowers and shrubs.

He said he had taken calls and letters from gardeners complaining of the damage, which were similar to the effects of salty water on plants.

Mr Fisher said while it may not immediately kill plants, in an effort to stop the browning off of plants, concerned gardeners may try to flush the garden by watering more than usual.

But he said over-watering plants only increased the damage.

Mr Fisher said: "After prolonged wet seasons, the rise in the water levels in the ground water can bring with it water with a higher salt content.

"That water is coming down the river and into the water supply, and people are using it on their gardens, then finding that their shrubs and flowers are going yellow at the tips and then eventually brown."

Mr Fisher said a Yeppoon gardener had called his 4RO radio show, telling him that in the past year her plants had been in worse condition than in many years previously, and while it did coincide with the connection of the Yeppoon water supply pipeline, there was no conclusive evidence to link the two.

He said a Park Avenue woman had also called, saying that since running out of rainwater in July, she had seen the condition of her garden deteriorate and she was now relying on the town water supply to feed it.

Mayor Brad Carter said yesterday that while the Glenmore Treatment Plant could remove bacteria and some other solids out of the water, a reverse osmosis plant (which could remove salt from the water) would cost too much.

Mr Fisher said the best advice for gardeners to avoid problems associated with salty water was to use rainwater in their gardens.

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