Cyclone Marcia water report clears Rockhampton council

ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council has been given the tick of approval over its handling of the water issues which followed Cyclone Marcia.

The measures included releasing a year's worth of water to improve quality and bypassing necessary paperwork to put the community first.

Rotting debris in Alligator Creek was the main cause of a rise in elements of manganese and iron in the water, which led to changes in taste, smell and colour.

For a short time of about a day, water in the treatment plant measured outside health standards for manganese, but when mixed with existing water in reservoirs it continually tested within guidelines.

There are not acute or chronic health effects of an increased manganese level, but the taste change is noticeable.

In response, the council released water from the Fitzroy Barrage to flush the water supply network and improve water quality.

An independent review into that response by Waterone was presented at yesterday's council performance and service committee meeting.

Although council heard the water did fail to meet aesthetic guidelines, the barrage water release was the "appropriate course of action".

The review also found the Glenmore Water Treatment Plant was operated at the best of the staff's ability and achieved good results in the circumstances.

Mayor Margaret Strelow said the decision to release the barrage water was made without completing all the appropriate paperwork, given the time and tide restraints.

But the Waterone report found that protecting the community was more important, with the hours between completing and leaving paperwork making a noticeable difference to water quality.

"It was a difficult call to make because it was our water supply," Cr Strelow said. "We dumped nearly a year's worth of water."

She said the water situation had been a "catch-22" for the council, which provided free bottled water to the community.

Cr Strelow said this made many think the water was not safe to drink.

Several recommendations were made to council from the report.

These included additional chlorine dosing points and investigating the installation of an oxygen or hydrogen peroxide dosing system downstream of raw water pumps.

Council moved to further investigate and give budgetary consideration to the recommended improvements to the water treatment plant.

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