DEBATE: The Fraser Coast should discuss drinking recycled water in the future,a University of Queensland Business School Professor says.
DEBATE: The Fraser Coast should discuss drinking recycled water in the future,a University of Queensland Business School Professor says. Thinkstock

Waste water the future for Fraser Coast supply

NOW is the time for people on the Fraser Coast to discuss drinking recycled water in the future, says a University of Queensland Business School Professor.

UQ's Sara Dolnicar said with water security a growing concern, now was the time to discuss options for finding drinking water on the Fraser Coast, while our water supply was still adequate.

"We had that terrible drought where dam levels were 10 to 20% and that's a serious problem so we need to react now before we get to that so it's not a panic reaction," Prof Dolnicar said.

"We need to be proactive in Australia and think about it before we get into a crisis - so we're ready for it," she said.

She said people on the Fraser Coast would have to push past the "yuck" factor and discuss the option with dwindling supplies.

"I think everyone has the right to have concerns and perceptions," she said.

"But what I would like to see more of is an objective conversation about all of the options and that hasn't happened yet."

Wide Bay Conservation Council vice-president Roger Currie said recycled water would be a cheaper option for the Fraser Coast.

"The Bligh Government said it could cost around $23 million to enable Wide Bay Water to expand their system in Nikenbah and sustain a future water supply in Hervey Bay," Mr Currie said.

"Paradise Dam is full and we could use it but we're looking at $200 million to get that water here by building a pipeline," he said.

Mr Currie said the Fraser Coast needed to consider new ways to get drinking water.

"In 2009 the predicted model demand we created for 2016 showed there could be a shortfall of water," he said.

"Lenthalls Dam is an unreliable catchment; if it doesn't get topped up regularly; it runs the risk of not sustaining Hervey Bay for future growth."

Wide Bay Water is a pioneer in developing recycled water systems which irrigate gardens and farms all over the Fraser Coast, but chief executive officer Peter Care said there was no point in discussing the consumption of recycled water because the State Government was not allowing people to drink it and there was no need for it.

"Probably in 30 years time there will be, but not now," Mr Care said.

"No one in Queensland is drinking it; we only use recycled water on our plantation crops, sugar cane and a couple of golf courses.

"It's an issue that needs to be addressed by the State and Federal Government because we can't influence it from here independently," he said.

According to the United Nations, only 60% of the world's water needs will be met by 2030 with projected population growth of another two to three billion people in the next 40 years.

The Queensland Government's Department of Energy and Water, in its WaterQ 30-year plan, stated Wide Bay's population could reach almost 480,000 by 2044 and would have a "critical need for increased infrastructure investment in water and sewerage services".

Water can be recycled from...

Rainwater

Stormwater

Greywater

Treated effluent



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