Councillor dirty over mine water
IT looks dirty and unappetising, but Glenda Mather is more worried about what we can't see.
Holding a glass of pre-treated Fitzroy River water, the outspoken councillor muses on what it contains.
"The State has effectively given mines and coal-seam gas companies a permit to pollute," she says.
"Who knows what metals and chemicals have washed downstream."
Cr Mather is furious that her colleagues on Rockhampton Regional Council have agreed to spend $50,000 of ratepayers' money to join a new body - Fitzroy Partnerships for River Health - to carry out independent testing of water in the catchment.
"The only reason for this is that there is a lack of trust in DERM and the Government to look after us.
"The mines should be paying for this, not our ratepayers. What are we going to have to do without to fund this?
"We shouldn't be spending ratepayers' money to do the work of the State."
Cr Mather was told this week that Fitzroy River Water (FRW) tested annually for the presence of heavy metals in the raw water at Glenmore Water Treatment Plant.
FRW said the presence of metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, aluminium and lead was so low they didn't register in tests.
But she's not convinced by the evidence.
"We should be testing for metals on a far more frequent basis. We know they are a by-product of mining, and we know the mines are discharging into the catchment."
The council confirmed yesterday that sodium concentrations in the region's drinking water had fallen to the normal long-term average due to the flushing of the system caused by heavy summer rains upstream.
But Cr Mather said it was certain that salinity would rise again as a result of mining discharge once the flows into the river ceased.
"The only answer is to make the mines treat their water to drinking standard before releasing it into the catchment," she said.
FRW tests annually for:
- Acid soluble aluminium