Water truck arriving at the Mount Morgan Water Treatment Plant. Picture: Contributed
Water truck arriving at the Mount Morgan Water Treatment Plant. Picture: Contributed

REVEALED: Six future Mt Morgan water solutions

Six potential long-term solutions to the Mount Morgan water crisis were floated at a public community forum, with some options proving to be more well-received by residents than others.

Rockhampton Regional Council held a community meeting at the School of Arts Hall on April 13 to discuss the current and future water situation for the drought-stricken town, with close to 150 attendees.

This comes after Queensland Health restrictions prevented a meeting going ahead in March.

Fitzroy River Water manager Jason Plumb said water trucks would deliver drinking water to Mount Morgan seven days a week, and while only nine water trucks were delivered the day before, it would be ramped up to the previously announced 20 trucks in the coming days.

“As much as possible, we’ve tried to deal with these issues and improve the quality of the treatment process, but we’ve reached the point where that simply can’t be improved too much more,” Dr Plumb said about the discoloured water.

He said water would stop being pulled from the No.7 dam soon, when the full capacity of the trucked-in water from Gracemere came in.

Dr Plumb also said there would only be enough water for 160L per person per day, noting residents had been using about 230L to 240L per person per day in recent months.

He said that was similar to the portions used in Stanthorpe and Greater Brisbane.

“We’re fairly happy that’s a fairly reasonable amount of water per person per day, but that’s something we’re going to manage and monitor very closely to make sure it’s appropriate,” Dr Plumb said.

The six long-term options presented to the meeting were:

Treated Mine Pit Water

This option would hold up to 9000ML of water and would be diluted into No.7 dam at a ratio of 1:1000.

It would use reverse osmosis and lime treatment to make it safe, and would take one to three years to build once approved.

But there was an angry uproar from the crowd when this option was announced.

“I personally have no problem with that response and I’m not here to make a judgment call one way or the other, but just to give you the information,” Dr Plumb said.

“So, happy to have that response, that’s fine.”

Mayor Tony Williams told the meeting this option was only presented because it was included in a report and the council showed it to the community for transparency.

“Council’s not interested in the mine pit water, it’s another level of government... and we get the message from the community that’s not a good option that’s preferred by the community,” Cr Williams said.

“We’re just providing this information by what was provided in the report.

“We’re not looking at this option, it’s not being considered.”

There was an applause.

New dam on Nine Mile Creek

This option could hold up to 2000ML to 4000ML of water and will take three to five years to build after approval.

But it will have a high ongoing cost and still be dependent on rainfall.

“A dam somewhere fairly close to this part of the world, is still going to be subject to the same type of reliability issues in respect to rainfall,” Dr Plumb said.

Gracemere pipeline

A pipeline up the mountain from Gracemere would provide 1ML to Mount Morgan per day.

The 26km pipe would have three pump stations and a reservoir and take three to five years to build.

It would use the water from the treatment plant at Parkhurst.

Excavate Fletcher Creek

This project would provide up to 110ML of water with 1ML of water per day.

It is still dependent on rainfall and would take two to three years to build.

No.7 Dam increase

This project would increase the capacity of the existing dam by 200ML to 300ML and take two to three years to build.

Pump from Stanwell

Although it’s only an idea at this stage, the council plans to talk to the State Government and operators of Stanwell to use some of their water.

Dr Plumb said this would prevent more water going out through the Fitzroy River barrage.

“There’s a fair bit of potential about this but it’s really nothing much more than a bit of an idea,” he said.

All of these projects could cost tens of millions of dollars and can’t be turned off, even when No.7 dam is full.

There will be ongoing maintenance costs.

Water and Environmental Sustainability councillor Donna Kirkland said all questions were noted and would be published in the next edition of the Argus, on the council’s website.

“Due to the excellent contributions in the room and variety of questions asked we now have quite a lot of information to sift through, so please bear with us as we provide answers for each,” Cr Kirkland said.

Divisional councillor Cherie Rutherford said the council would be in touch with those who missed the meeting.

“We have a small number of residents who registered and were unable to attend this meeting, so the meeting was recorded and will be posted to our Facebook page,” Cr Rutherford said.

“We also will be in touch with those who missed out on the meeting, to see if we need to hold another smaller meeting or if they’re happy being able to see the recording and the questions and answers being published.

“Communication is important as we move forward together with this issue.

“We will continue to make all information available on our website, writing to residents directly and attendees will soon be able to fill in a survey to provide feedback on the meeting.”

The council will continue to provide updates on their website, and residents can call 07 4932 9000 if they have any questions or concerns.