Cr calls for mines to treat water

COUNCILLORS yesterday unanimously called for an urgent meeting with all relevant government departments and mining representatives in Rockhampton to discuss the discharging of mine waste water into the river system.

Amid claims that the current quality of the region's drinking water was unacceptable and that politicians were putting cash before health, Rockhampton Regional Council issued the strongest message yet that it would fight to maintain health standards.

They backed the call by Cr Glenda Mather to summon officials from DERM, Queensland Health, various other bodies and Queensland Resources Council to a summit.

In addition they called for a report into the feasibility of mine operators pre-treating all waste water before pumping it into rivers in the catchment.

Cr Mather pointed to public complaints of illness linked to drinking water and the high level of sodium currently present.

Cr Stephen Schwarten backed her and said the mining companies had to be made to take responsibility.

"I think there needs to be a definitive statement from this council about where it stands.

"What's at stake here is the natural environment of Central Queensland."

But Cr Bill Ludwig went further and indicated he believed cash-strapped governments were so keen to grab their slice of the resources boom they couldn't be trusted to act in the public interest.

"People are putting dollars before the health of communities," he said.

"The Fitzroy Barrage is the end of the track. All of the contaminants that enter the catchment end up there.

"Meanwhile the state and federal governments are falling over themselves to approve mining projects and keep the royalties and taxes rolling in.

"I have lost faith in the system. We can't keep going the way we are going with the mines allowed to self regulate. They don't have to drink the water, we do.

"We have to live with the consequences of contamination."

Only last week a delegation from DERM told councillors that high salinity in the region's drinking water had nothing to do with mine discharges.

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