MAYOR Margaret Strelow wants Rockhampton residents to know that whilst the water may not be appealing, it is safe to drink.

At a press conference yesterday, Cr Strelow and Jason Plumb, Fitzroy River Water's water treatment and supply manager, addressed community concerns over the quality of drinking water.

The pair said whilst the water currently in homes and in the city's reservoir was deemed safe to consume, water currently flowing into the treatment plant was not reaching Australian standards due to the high concentration of manganese.

"Manganese is an element that is found in air, soil and water. It is an essential metal for normal healthy human growth and development," Cr Strelow said.

"It is heavily concentrated in water that has high levels of rotted debris and this is an unfortunate aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Marcia. Our treatment plant cannot remove such high concentrations of manganese, despite additional treatment activities being done."

Levels of the metal can rise following a major flood event, with the elevation usually lasting seven to 10 days.

Treatment options that are known to be effective cost upwards of $30 million.

The council has steps in place to deal with the issue, including the opening of barrage gates in an attempt to flush through the affected water.

Mr Plumb and council staff took media for a tour through Alligator Creek and into the treatment plant to demonstrate the issues involved (check out our online video).

Even though additional oxidation and aeration techniques have been applied, the water remains slightly higher than the recommended Australian standard.

Despite this, health authorities reassure residents that even the affected water is safe for short periods of time.

The health guidelines limits are based on a lifetime of exposure to manganese in drinking water, therefore short exposure does not pose a risk to public health.

Residents are reminded that there is enough drinking water currently in the reservoirs to last another two to three days if people refrain from using water outdoors.

Then the city will revert to the water that will be treated at the plant.

Water stations have also been set up across the city for residents who remain concerned over the quality of drinking water, and bottled water will be available to priority members of the public with specific needs.


Water station locations:

  • Heritage Village car park, Boundary Rd
  • Church Park car park, Glenmore Rd
  • Juds Park car park, Norman Rd
  • O'Shanesy St, Gracemere, at the water tanker filling station
  • Central Park, Murray St

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