Qld Govt study finds Fitzroy River water 'contaminated'
NEW analysis of the waters rushing through the Fitzroy River in Central Queensland show it had too many metals - including aluminium, iron and manganese - to be considered drinkable.
The State published results of its "enhanced environmental monitoring program" online, showing levels of the three metals "exceeded the drinking water aesthetics guidelines".
Testing was done on water in the Fitzroy Catchment in late January after mines released water after inundation caused by ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald.
The Queensland Opposition jumped on the findings, demanding an independent expert panel look into the results.
Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne called for the government to guarantee the quality of the water being consumed in the region.
But a government spokesman said results showed no adverse affects from any mine water releases.
Central Queensland water expert Ben Kele said there may have been some impact from mine water being pumped into the water system, but it was not the main reason for its poor quality.
Mr Kele said results from the water testing unsurprisingly showed floodwaters were unhealthy and should not be consumed.
"The copper and iron, those minerals are there," he said.
"Some of them could definitely be coming from mine discharges.
"They're naturally in mine water, where you're digging up the pits - you'll have trace metals there."
But he said the Isaac River which was not affected by mine water had a similar quality.
"I can't see anything in the data that indicates any health or environmental concerns beyond the floodwater," Mr Kele said.
"You don't drink or bathe in floodwater, that's true whether it has mine discharges in it or not."
When asked about the report's findings, a government spokesman said the results reflected the underground material in the area.
"A range of factors, for example local geology, contribute different minerals in runoff and need to be considered in applying and interpreting these guidelines," he said.
"Conclusions should not be drawn by comparing a single sample to the guidelines because the guidelines are based on percentiles and require multiple samples over a period of time."
Mr Kele said there was little reason for concern for residents, because water treatment plants handled the water before it could be delivered to the region's taps.
The "aesthetic" guidelines were not necessary a health issue, but more related to taste or colour.
Mr Kele said water quality may be poor during or immediately after a flood event, but monitoring had to keep being done to make sure mine water discharges do not make it worse.