Public meeting

A public meeting about the water supply was held at the Mount Morgan School of Arts on Tuesday April 13.

You can read a media release about the meeting here, and watch a video of the presentation by clicking below. We took down all the questions that were asked and have provided the answers below. They were also published in the 28 April edition of The Argus.

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Water quality

Why does the water taste and smell like dirt?

Now that we have started trucking water up from Gracemere full time there should be no issues with the taste and smell. The previous issues were due to algae and low concentrations of manganese in the water. To tackle this we tried new carbon filters at the water treatment plant, bringing up a few trucks of water a day to help dilute the taste, and flushing the system more frequently. These weren't as effective as we had hoped so we took the decision to start bringing 20 truckloads a day from Gracemere to the Mount Morgan Water Treatment Plant. FRW have stopped sourcing water from No. 7 Dam and we are only using water supplied from Gracemere. If you are still experiencing issues with the taste and smell of your water please give us a call on 4932 9000. 

 

What are the current pH levels of the dam?

The pH of the raw water in No. 7 Dam is very close to normal levels and is currently (April 2021) 7.49.

 

Why is the town water making me itch?

As the dam level dropped and the water quality reduced, the level of blue green algae increased. Some people with particularly sensitive skin may have noticed a difference in the water due to the presence of very low levels of blue green algae. However water is now being trucked full time from Gracemere so dam water is no longer being used. 

 

Will residents be compensated for current damage being caused to water systems and for the cost of purchasing drinkable water?

Any customers who called with water quality issues were offered free bottled water, and there shouldn't be any further issues with taste now that we have started trucking full time. The water shouldn't have caused any damage to systems but if you have concerns please call us on 4932 9000 and we can look into your specific circumstances. 

 

 

Water Trucking

Will the water transported keep up with demand?

Yes. At the moment we are providing around 160 litres per person per day, and we can increase this a little if needed.

How long would the State pay for trucking water?

The Queensland Government paid for water trucking to Stanthorpe for 18 months until they had significant rainfall recently. We are in talks with them at the moment and anticipate they will support the people of Mount Morgan in the same way. 

Considering truck failure can RRC guarantee trucked supply? Is there a contingency plan?

Yes, Council has secured the use of more water tanker contractors than it currently needs on any one day so that there are contingency arrangements in the event that any one contractor is able to service Council's needs.

 

Twenty trucks has a big impact on noise and roads in town. How long can this go on for?

We absolutely appreciate that the trucks have an impact in town. However a permanent solution is going to take some time to fund and build, so until there is significant rainfall trucking is the only way to continue to provide safe drinking water to Mount Morgan. Ultimately this arrangement with trucking water will need to continue until it is no longer required.

 

Do trucks need food grade certification to transport water?

Yes, each of the water tanker contractors must possess a current licence that covers the transport and delivery of drinking water.

 

What is the cost comparison between carting water and implementing a pipeline?

Carting water costs at least $5000 a day, and the construction of a pipeline is likely to cost at least $25 million, plus ongoing operational costs. One year of water trucking would cost between $1.83 million and $3.65 million.

 

What happens if the required rains do not eventuate over the next 6 months?

Water trucking will continue to ensure that everyone in Mount Morgan has access to clean drinking water. 

 

With water coming via tanker delivery will we still have 24 hour access?

Absolutely. The water is put into the Mount Morgan Water Treatment Plant and then distributed around the town. You will be able to turn on your taps and get water as normal. 

 

 

Hydro Scheme

Is there more information you can provide about the hydro scheme?

The hydro scheme is at a very early stage with a number of other stakeholders involved. There is information about it in the video of the presentation on our facebook page, starting at 21.15.

 

What would be the construction and ongoing operational costs of a hydro scheme?

Council will work with specialists to undertake a feasibility study to determine the up to date costs to construct and operate the different options. This study will also try and see if there are any other suitable options available that haven't yet been suggested. We will also be seeking a commitment from the Queensland Government to work in partnership with Council on this. We will provide updates about the study and share the results once it is complete. If such a project were to progress to completion the expectation is that Council would not be paying for all the construction and operating costs due to the involvement in this project by other key stakeholders.

 

Would other communities benefit from the hydro scheme, such as Bouldercombe and Kabra?

As part of the feasibility work we are doing we will be exploring the option of supplying water to other communities. 

 

What are the environmental benefits?

The potential benefits of the hydro scheme include the use of raw water supplied from the Barrage via the Stanwell Water Supply Dam to keep the No. 7 Dam at near full levels and potentially also create a seasonal river flow event in the Dee River. Such a river flow event has the potential to aid in the remediation of the acid mine drainage impacted parts of the Dee River as well as increase the amount of permanent water in parts of the river system to support local wildlife and associated ecosystems.

 

Would the water be treated prior to arrival in Mount Morgan?

No, it would be raw water and be put straight into the No. 7 dam. Water would then be removed from the dam and sent to the Mount Morgan Water Treatment Plant as usual.

 

Would costs for a hydro scheme be distributed across all Rockhampton Region ratepayers?

This is not possible to determine at this time, however, depending on the likely partners or stakeholders who may be involved in such a significant project, the costs would most likely be shared according to the commercial interests of these stakeholders.

 

 

Pipeline

Are you going to build a pipeline?

Council will work with specialists to undertake a feasibility study to determine the up to date costs to construct and operate the different options. This study will also try and see if there are any other suitable options available that haven't yet been suggested. We will also be seeking a commitment from the Queensland Government to work in partnership with Council on this. We will provide updates about the study and share the results once it is complete. 

 

Why is there mention of the pipeline being "avoided" - all options will cost significantly. There has obviously been a decision made by Council, so what is it?

A pipeline is very much a part of the long term options being considered. No decision has been made yet about which long term option is the preferred one. Council will work with specialists to undertake a feasibility study to determine the up to date costs to construct and operate the different options. This study will also try and see if there are any other suitable options available that haven't yet been suggested. We will also be seeking a commitment from the Queensland Government to work in partnership with Council on this. We will provide updates about the study and share the results once it is complete. 

 

Can you build a raw water pipeline so that the dam stays full?

This option is part of what is being considered via the Pumped Hydro Scheme project option.

 

When will you have more information about the pipeline, such as construction and maintenance costs?

The work will be done within the next 3-6 months depending on the discussions that Council has with other key stakeholders such as the Queensland Government.

 

Why is the timeline for getting a pipeline so long?

A lot of work has to be done to plan exactly what type of pipeline (i.e. size, length, location) so that the advantages and disadvantages of such a pipeline project are well known before any decision is made to fund, design and build a pipeline. Even if construction were to commence tomorrow, it would likely be at least 2-3 years for all the construction work to be completed.

 

Would areas outside of the Mount Morgan township, such as Stanwell and Struck Oil, have access to pipeline water infrastructure?

The opportunities for other locations to receive water from a pipeline would be considered when this project option is assessed. This assessment will help to confirm the suitability of this option for the future.

 

Can we run a pipeline along the old railway line?

 This is unlikely as it's not the most direct route between Gracemere and Mount Morgan, but it will be considered as part of the feasibility study. 

 

Would there still be a water restriction if the pipeline goes in?

If the No. 7 Dam fills above the nominated trigger levels in the Drought Management Plan and there is a plentiful supply of water in the Barrage, water restrictions would not be required.

 

If pipeline is built and dam becomes full, how much water will be pumped on daily basis to keep infrastructure running?

This question is not able to be answered at this stage as it depends on exactly what the design of the pipeline is and whether it will be used to supply water to other locations including providing a passing flow over the No. 7 Dam spillway to the downstream Dee River.

 

What has been done following the 2017 resolution and funding into a pipeline?

Discussions have continued with the Queensland Government to help determine how much future investment in infrastructure for the long term water security for Mount Morgan is required.

 

 

Mine Pit Water

Why is the mine pit being ruled out? This could work well. It's not mine pit water once it's treated.

The water can absolutely be made safe, but we know that there is a lot of community concern about this option. If a significant proportion of the community do not want to drink this water then it isn't an option that the Council wants to pursue. However may need to include it in the feasibility study to demonstrate to potential funding partners that we are exploring all options.

 

Could mine pit water be one of the quickest and cheapest options?

Yes, but if a significant part of the community do not want to drink it, it makes it a difficult option to pursue.

 

Could mine pit water still be useful as a non-potable water resource, such as for town gardens?

Yes, this is definitely an option worth considering to help reduce the use of potable water for outdoor use.

 

How many years would the mine pit water last, and what happens when it runs out?

The mine pit water is likely to last for a very long period of time given the potential for continuous refilling from groundwater and surface water sources.

 

Are there issues with children or the elderly drinking mine pit water? How can you guarantee this?

No, as any water sourced from the mine pit would go through reverse osmosis and filter processes before then being heavily diluted with the existing No. 7 Dam raw water. It would then go through the water treatment reservoir and would only be supplied if it was completely safe to drink.

 

Why hasn’t the mine pit been cleared and cleaned before?

Clearing and cleaning the mine pit is a very large, complex and expensive challenge with the Queensland Government continuing to try to keep the mine pit water volume to a minimum without causing significant environmental impact by simply pumping the untreated pit water straight into the Dee River.

 

What toxins are currently in the mine pit water and how can you guarantee they'll be properly removed?

As the mine pit water is very low pH it contains many different metals that are dissolved in this acidic water. These metals are present in the water as they are naturally abundant in the surrounding gold and copper bearing ore. Any water sourced from the mine pit would go through reverse osmosis and filter processes before then being heavily diluted with the existing No. 7 Dam raw water. It would then go through the water treatment reservoir and would only be supplied if it was completely safe to drink.

 

 

Cost of long term solutions

What is the cost of each project?

Council will work with specialists to undertake a feasibility study to determine the up to date costs to construct and operate the different options. This study will also try and see if there are any other suitable options available that haven't yet been suggested. We will also be seeking a commitment from the Queensland Government to work in partnership with Council on this. We will provide updates about the study and share the results once it is complete. 

 

What will be the impact on rates?

As we don't yet know which option will be most suitable and what the associated costs are, we don't know what impact, if any, there will be on rates. We will also be seeking funding support from the Queensland Government. 

 

Why should we have to pay for another water scheme when there was one previously wrecked by council?

We are not sure what this question is referring to. If this is your question please contact us with more information so that we can provide an answer. Ultimately, Mount Morgan residents will not be paying for more than one water scheme.

 

Has Council explored the grants and funding options available?

There are various grant and funding programs but these can change over time. As part of the feasibility study we will be identifying any funding programs that could help with the different options. 

 

Is the report looking at these options available to the public? Is it on RRC website?

Once the feasibility study is complete we will share it. 

 

 

Dam cleaning

What are the problems with cleaning out the dam?

This is quite an expensive option for very little gain in terms of extra capacity and it will not provide any additional water supply right now. Also, it only makes a difference if we get enough rain for the dam to fill up. We also have to be mindful of not weakening the dam wall by excavating too close to the dam wall. There are a range of approvals, including environmental, needed before any dredging would be allowed. However we will need to do some work on the dam to ensure it's up to the latest safety standards, and increasing the capacity of the dam may be possible through this process. We are working on obtaining these approvals and how best to carry out this work if the opportunity arises.

 

Will the current vegetation in the dam be a problem when it fills again? If so - can it be removed?

The current vegetation in the dam will not be a problem when the dam eventually fills. This is a normal process that occurs in river channels all the time and the small amounts of vegetation will be drowned out and eventually decay. In the meantime, the vegetation will probably provide some benefit to fish stocks by creating additional fish habitat.

 

Who is responsible for the land surrounding the dam area?

The land around the No. 7 dam is owned by the Queensland Government. However Council looks after it as the appointed trustee.

 

 

Recreation at the dam

Will a pipeline keep dam full for recreation?

A pipeline of treated water from Gracemere to Mount Morgan would not go into the dam at all; the water would go straight into the Water Treatment Plant and then be distributed around the town as normal. A pipeline supplying raw (untreated) water, such as with the hydro scheme option, would be able to be used to keep the dam close to full.

 

Would the dam wall raising affect new track?

No, any raising of the dam wall is not likely to impact the new track.

 

Is the water safe at this point for kayaking, sailing and swimming?

The water is currently safe for these activities as per the signage that is kept updated near the No. 7 Dam boat ramp, however, the number of hazards in the dam will continue to increase as the dam level continues to drop.

 

 

Other

Why was Fletchers Creek supply closed down?

The Mount Morgan Shire Council and the Qld Government made a decision in the 1990s to discontinue the use of the Fletcher Creek water supply due to its lack of reliability during dry periods and to a lesser extent due to problems associated with its relatively poor water quality. This decision led to the raising of the dam wall to increase the storage capacity of No. 7 Dam which has served as the primary source for Mount Morgan for more than 20 years.

 

Can we see the data that was used to develop the drought management plan?

Yes, you can look at the Drought Management Plan here. The Mount Morgan Regional Water Supply Security Assessment prepared by the Queensland Government in 2018 can be read here.

 

Will you track how much different households are using? Some people are abusing the system and not following the rules.

FRW continues to monitor household consumption based on feedback from the community and also as part of the normal water billing process. It is very clear to see if some households are using much greater volumes of water than expected.

 

Do you intend to adopt an open minded policy to look for further options in the development of a preferred option in the near future? Will a best practice methodology project management be adopted in this selection?

Council will follow best practice and work with specialists to undertake a feasibility study to determine the up to date costs to construct and operate the different options. This study will also try and see if there are any other suitable options available that haven't yet been suggested. We will provide updates about the study and share the results once it is complete. 

 

If there is a bushfire, will water be drawn from the dam?

If water is required for the protection of human life and/or public or private buildings water will be sourced from No. 7 Dam as required.

 

Does council have a timeline to select a detailed preferred option? Will the community be given updates during this process?

The feasibility study is expected to take 3-6 months but will be influenced by some upcoming discussions with key stakeholders including the Queensland Government, and residents will be kept updated throughout this process. We will issue media releases, put up social media posts, update the Mount Morgan Water section of our website, provide information to The Argus, and write to residents directly. 

 

What happened to the money from 2008 for a pipeline?

There was some money allocated for an initial feasibility study in 2008. This study was undertaken and provided some of the long term options that are being explored. 

 

Is it true that no new houses/water connections to town are being approved by RRC currently?

 No, this is not correct. New houses and new connections are permissible at all times.

 

What new incentives are being considered to encourage water wise behaviour, for example grey water recycling?

Fitzroy River Water currently offers rebates to those who purchase water efficient products, including washing machines, shower roses, dual flush toilets, and rainwater tanks. You can read more about it here.

 

Is there any major source of underground water that could be tapped?

Unfortunately there is not within the close vicinity of the Mount Morgan township.

 

When did we last have an independent structure report on the dam wall?

A 5 Yearly Comprehensive Inspection of the No. 7 Dam was completed by an external engineering consultancy firm in September 2020.

 

Have there been any locations other than nine mile explored for a secondary dam?

FRW is not aware of any other recent assessments for a potential new dam site other than the Nine Mile Creek location, however, the upgrading of the No. 7 Dam and Fletcher Creek Weir will continue to be options that are explored for the future.

Why do we pay more to access water?

Council currently determines water access charges on a scheme by scheme basis and in generally terms larger schemes have lower access charges due to the economies of scale associated with their larger population sizes. 

 

What actions have RRC taken or propose to take in relation to formal submissions to State and Federal Governments as it relates to long term water supply for the town?

We have written to the relevant ministers directly. The last time the Queensland Government held a cabinet meeting in Central Queensland we raised the issue and explained why it was so important to the community. Council has advocated on the Mount Morgan community's behalf a number of times, but were told while there is water in the dam it wasn't a priority. The seriousness of the current situation will help us highlight the issue and demonstrate how important a long term solution is. 

 

Can I have a discount on my water bill while I can't use it in my garden, to wash the car etc.?

You are only charged for the water you use, so as less water is being consumed you should see your bill reduce. 

 

What is going to happen when the dam replenishes with rainfall? Should the council continue to impose restrictions on water usage until a more viable solution be put in place.

Decisions about water restrictions are triggered depending on how much water is in the dam. If the dam is full it's unlikely that any water restrictions would be put in place. If the No. 7 Dam fills above the nominated trigger levels in the Drought Management Plan, water restrictions would not be required.

 

Mount Morgan has nearly always had a water problem. Why does it take the present catastrophe to get results?

Ensuring Mount Morgan has long term sustainable water security has been an important issue for Council for a long time. However any solution will need the support of other funding partners such as the State Government. Council has advocated on the Mount Morgan community's behalf a number of times, but were told while there is water in the dam it wasn't a priority. The seriousness of the current situation will help us highlight the issue and demonstrate how important a long term solution is. With existing water supply capability there is no capacity for future growth projections, securing permanent long term water solutions will benefit Mount Morgan's future capacity to grow.