Candidate Douglas Shire Council Richard Lavender 2013 Douglas Shire Council Candidate Richard Lavender

Candidate for the Douglas Shire Council
MOBILE PHONE #: 0487 423 235
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  Richard Lavender Candidate for Douglas Shire Council  
Clean Water - Richard Lavender Candidate
Easy to say ‘Chemical Free Water’ - Hard to do on a limited budget.

Ratepayers want clean and chemically free water. I understand.

I remember first coming to Port Douglas as a visitor back in the late 90’s sitting at a restaurant and the first thing the waiter states is ‘don’t drink the water’. The impression was like visiting a third world country where one had to be careful of the food and water because of contaminants. I was left feeling concerned and unsafe.
The community wants clean and chemically free water. I do too. Water quality and safety is crucial to both our healthy tropical lifestyle and the success of the entire region as a first class tourist destination. I believe that ‘chemical free water’ is an important ‘selling point’, and an inherent part of cherishing our pristine environment.

“Bacteria counts have exceeded health guidelines on a regular basis and the resultant risk to the community is too great to continue the chemical free nature of the supplies”
Water Committee Chair Cr Paul Gregory

Prior to my announcement to run for Council I studied the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines of 2008 and The Public Health Regulation 2005 and the Agenda of the Water Waste Committee 2009. I also reviewed editorial comments regarding water contamination and safety where the acting editor stated that Cairns Regional Council took the easy way out by chlorinating the water supply. After reading all these regulations and guidelines I realised that so many jump to conclusions without doing the research. Council has to comply with it's legal obligation to deliver safe water to the community.

I support chemical free water if it can be achieved to comply with the Queensland Health standards within reasonable costs to ratepayers. I also agree that ‘chemical free water’ can be a ‘selling point’ to market the region. As noted above it’s easy for the candidates to state they support chemical free water for the shire. It’s another thing to do the research and determine if it can be achieved with a limited budget.

I invite you to read the below excerpts from the Agenda of Water Waste Committee 2009 written by Bruce Gardiner, General Manager Water & Waste Cairns Regional Council. Be informed about the conditions to maintain a safe flow of water within your community. Then we as a community can make an educated decision on how to proceed with the clean and chemical free water issue.

Below is the link to the complete document.

Water & Waste Committee May 20 2009:
The water supplied to properties in Division 10 receives a high level of water treatment through ultrafiltration followed by ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. However, the UV disinfection process does not provide any long-term disinfection once the water leaves the treatment plant and enters the pipe network. The water is therefore subject to potential contamination from water pipes break, contamination in reservoirs, backflow of
contaminated water into the system, or if water sits stagnant in water pipes on your property.

Even though Council has implemented a drinking water quality management plan and staff have maintained the pipe network and reservoirs to a high standard, water in the supply system has failed to meet drinking water health standards on a number of occasions. As a result Queensland Health and the Office of the Drinking Water Regulator have directed Council to take action to ensure that the water supplied to customers is safe.

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2008)
No sample of drinking water should contain any E Coli

The Public Health Regulation (2005)
Section 18ACc of the Public Health Regulation (through reference to schedule 3A) states that E Coli must not be detected be detected in a drinking water supply. Under the provisions of the Health Act (2005) it is an offence to supply unsafe water:

S57 C When drinking water is unsafe
Drinking water is unsafe at a particular time if it would be likely to cause physical harm to a person who might later consume it, assuming nothing happened to it after that particular time and before being consumed by the person that would prevent it being used for its intended use.

S57E Supply of unsafe drinking water
A drinking water service provider must not supply drinking water that the provider knows, or reasonably ought to know, is unsafe.
Maximum penalty - 3000 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment

The standard test for E Coli requires a 100ml sample to be filtered and incubated overnight in a laboratory. If 1 or more bacterial colonies form, then this it taken to be the number of organisms in a 100ml sample. Hence if 1 E Coli is found from a 100ml water sample taken from a 10 million litre reservoir (eg Reef Park reservoir), then it is possible that there will be up to 100 million bacteria in that reservoir together with any other
contaminants (eg bacteria, viruses, pathogens) present in the faecal matter that may be associated with the E Coli.

Queensland Health has advised:
I remind you that Queensland Health is obligated to enforce the aforementioned legislation and whilst we would rather resolve this issue in partnership with Council's, we may have no alternative but to proceed to enforce the Public Health Act 2005, if this supply continues to fail the prescribed microbiological standard.

Following the construction of the water treatment plants in October 2004, Douglas Shire undertook routine water testing in the pipe network generally on a monthly basis at up to 12 locations which did not include reservoirs. Water testing did result in the occasional E Coli failure but upon re-testing results were clear.

Douglas Shire Council did not test water in the reservoirs. The first time the reservoirs were tested in August last year, 7 out of 13 failed the Drinking Water Guidelines. Reservoirs are the main potential source of contamination into the water system. This resulted in a boil water alert being put in place until reservoirs were maintained and water testing results where clear of contamination.

It is therefore highly likely that there have always been low levels of E Coli in the water supply at times but the testing regime has not detected it. This is particularly more likely where the state of repair and cleanliness of some of the reservoirs was less than desirable.

Requirements for reporting water quality failures have come in to force on 1 January 2009 under the provisions of the Water (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008. This requires Council to report any failures to the regulator who is then able to take action as they see fit to ensure water provided to consumers is safe.

The World Health Organisation guidelines state:
The estimated risks to health from disinfectants and their by-products are extremely small in comparison to the real risks associated with inadequate disinfection, and it is important that disinfection should not be compromised in attempting to control such by-products. The destruction of microbial pathogens through the use of disinfectants is essential for the protection of public health.”

As the Port Douglas supply has not been subjected to chlorine disinfection, there is a high likelihood that there are biofilm growths at various locations in the pipe network. Biofilms are structural communities of micro-organisms that attach to the inside of water pipes. Biofilms contain a large percentage of any bacteria that may be present in a water supply.

In the event that these biofilms come in contact with chlorine for the first time, there is some potential for these organisms to die and release taste and odour compounds that may lead to customer complaints. This is expected to only be a short-term issue if at all.

Do you have issues regarding the Douglas Shire that you think are important?
Let's start the conversation!


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Mobile Phone #: 0487 423 235

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