Townsville community responds to call to reduce water use

Date published: 5 January 2023

Townsville has activated level two water restrictions to reduce demand through the Douglas Water Treatment Plant, with the community’s response already making a difference in managing the impact of continued rising blue green algae levels in the Ross River Dam.

Townsville City Council’s Water and Resources Recovery General Manager Travis Richards said while the dam was more than 70 per cent full, the current algal bloom was impacting how quickly water could be treated for use.

“Our treatment plants work on a supply and demand basis, which means the quicker we use our water the faster the treatment plants will pull more raw water from the dam to replenish the supply. At the moment, this raw water from the dam includes high levels of blue-green algae which impacts the treatment and production of water for the city,” Mr Richards said.

“The blue green algal bloom in the Ross River Dam means we need to slow down our consumption as a city so that all the controls we have in place at the treatment plant have the required time to work to filter algae out of the water.

“Infrastructure upgrades and treatment process modifications at Douglas Water Treatment Plant are working with improved chlorination, additional treatment and process changes, and the new water clarifier being implemented.

“Each of these investments mean that despite the increasingly high levels of blue green algae in Ross River Dam, Council have continued to treat and supply water safely for the city, and with the community’s assistance we can continue to manage water demand through this algal bloom event.”

Acting Mayor Mark Molachino said during the past two weeks water demand had reduced, particularly following rain.

“We thank everyone for taking action and we ask people to continue to home in on lowering their water use on their lawns and gardens and in their homes,” Cr Molachino said.

“Council has already turned off irrigation at most of its outdoor sites, and has now reduced irrigation at The Strand, Riverway and the three botanical gardens, saving about 10 megalitres or the equivalent of four Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of water each day.

“We’re asking you to cut back on watering your lawns to a maximum of two days per week and consider reducing the running time on your irrigation system by half an hour to save water. If you don’t have a lawn or garden, you can contribute by taking shorter showers or not putting your dishwasher or washing machine on until you have a full load.”

Households are asked to restrict water use in the following ways:

  • Sprinklers may be used in compliance with the current water restriction level as follows:
    • Even numbered properties on Tuesdays and Saturdays between 6pm and 8pm
    • Odd numbered properties on Wednesdays and Sundays between 6pm and 8pm
  • Hand-held watering can occur at any time
  • Pressure washers only for washing hard surfaces and
  • Cars and boats to be washed using buckets

Businesses are asked to restrict water use in the following ways:

  • Commercial Nurseries and Market Gardens are not to water between 9am and 4pm. Watering outside of that time by water efficient sprinkler, handheld trigger or twist nozzle, irrigation system and water can/bucket.
  • Irrigation of sports fields (including school sport fields) only during 6pm and 8pm. Handheld watering anytime.

For more information, visit Council’s Townsville water updates page.

Townsville residents are being urged to stick to level two water restrictions
Caption: Townsville residents are being urged to stick to level two water restrictions.