Townsville Water Updates

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 harmless, naturally-occurring organic compounds in some parts of the water network across Townsville, which may give the water an earthy taste and odour.

The compounds, Methylisoborneol (MIB) and geosmin, are produced by natural occurring algae and bacteria in source waters especially in tropical areas and can be detected at very low concentrations by humans.

These compounds have no health effects, and the water is safe to drink and use for all normal purposes.

Council’s water treatment processes are working normally, however MIB and geosmin cannot be removed from water using routine treatment processes.

Rigorous water treatment processes and water quality testing ensures Council continues to meet all Australian regulatory guidelines and 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.

DID YOU KNOW?

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