Townsville Water Updates

Current Temporary Water Restrictions

Townsville is currently on Level 2 water restrictions due to a prolonged and growing algal bloom in the city’s Ross River Dam. This bloom is impacting the speed at which water can be treated and supplied for community use.

Level 2 water restrictions include:

  • Watering for residential and rural lawns and gardens, and sports fields – Sprinklers only to be used 6pm-8pm, odds and evens system applies*. Hand held watering any time.
  • Washing Vehicles and Boats other than flushing boat motors – Bucket or water efficient car wash.
  • Washing hard surfaces other than for safety issues – Pressure wash only.
  • Commercial Nurseries and Market Gardens – No watering between 9am and 4pm. Watering outside that time with water efficient sprinklers only, handheld trigger or twist nozzle, irrigation system or watering can or bucket.

The Temporary Water Restrictions were announced on 22 December 2022.

For tips on how you can conserve water easily around your home, visit our Water Smart City page.

Schedule 43 Notice of Service Provider Restrictions 2022 (No. 1) (PDF, 61.4 KB)

Schedule A - Water Restrictions Notice (PDF, 734.6 KB)

*Odds and evens system:

  • Even numbered properties on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 6pm to 8pm
  • Odd numbered properties on Wednesdays and Sundays from 6pm to 8pm

Algal Bloom in Ross River Dam reaches new levels - Alert Level 3, click on thumbnail to open full-sized image.

Ross River Dam Offtake Level Biovolume graph showing levels are currently above Alert Level 3

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Townsville Water is committed to providing safe, reliable and cost-effective water services to the Townsville community. Townsville Water is a registered Service Provider under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008. The network is extensively tested on a regular basis to ensure all water meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

For more information and statistics on our water services including water production capacity, please visit Townsville Dashboards.

Organic compounds detected in water supply

Council is currently detecting low concentrations of two naturally-occurring organic compounds in some parts of the water network across Townsville, which gives the water an earthy taste and odour.

The compounds, Methylisoborneol (MIB) and Geosmin, are produced by naturally occurring algae and bacteria in raw water sources especially in tropical areas and can be detected at very low concentrations by humans.

Whilst, your water may taste slightly earthy, these compounds have no health effects, and the water is safe to drink and use for all normal purposes.
Council is doing all we can to minimise the impact to residents.

Council's rigorous water treatment processes and water quality testing ensures Council continues to meet and exceed Australian Drinking Water Guideline standards for water quality.

When Geosmin and MIB levels are noticeable, residents can add lemon juice and chill water in the refrigerator to improve taste and remove odour.

The ongoing effects of blue-green algae

The emergence of blue-green algae in natural and man-made water bodies is becoming a global concern. Townsville’s extensive waterways are no exception.

Throughout the year, blue-green algal blooms impact rivers, creeks, reservoirs, urban lakes and lagoons and can produce toxins and taste-and-odour compounds. Effectively managing these blooms requires time and resources including extensive and wide-ranging analytical testing.

Blue-green algae thrive in warm water temperatures and stagnant or slow-moving water bodies – conditions native to North Queensland. It is expected that in Townsville, the frequency and duration of blue-green algal blooms will continue, or increase, in the future.

Council works closely with highly regarded water quality experts on an ongoing basis. As we have had a relatively warm winter and as we approach summer and the temperature increases, there is a potential for algal blooms to again develop in the dam.


We manage blue-green algae blooms in accordance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines to mitigate potential risks to the community.

Algal Blooms infographic

The ongoing water quality strategy

Council has implemented several initiatives to minimise algal blooms in the dam. We have worked closely with highly regarded water quality experts to minimise the potential of a further outbreak. Earlier this year Townsville has an outbreak which led to a temporary discolouration of the water supply.

Since then, Council has implemented several initiatives to minimise algal blooms in the dam.

These initiatives include:

  • Construction of two new clarifiers at the Douglas Water Treatment Plant at a cost of $27.5 million. Construction has commenced and is forecast to be completed by September 2022.
  • Installation of PAC dosing to mitigate taste and odour and toxin risk.
  • Installation of aerators in Ross River Dam to improve dissolved oxygen concentrations.
  • Addition of pre-chlorination to all modules at Douglas Water Treatment Plant to improve soluble metal removal.
  • Additional monitoring both through Townsville Laboratory Services and the installation of new onsite analysers at Ross River Dam and Douglas Water Treatment Plant

Council will continue to monitor blue green algae and relevant water quality parameters in the Ross River Dam and adjust treatment processes to deliver the best quality water possible.

In the event of an algae outbreak, Townsville City Council may need to implement water restrictions to ensure it can effectively treat the water.

Water resources and education

For more information, visit Our Water Smart City.