22 January, 2024

UPDATE: 9.30am Tap water flows in Douglas shire

AS water starts flowing through taps in the Douglas shire, the council is urging residents and visitors to abide by level 4 restrictions.

The Rex Creek intake in Douglas Shire.
The Rex Creek intake in Douglas Shire.

"There were no major issues overnight across our water supply network," a spokesman said.

"Reservoir levels are sitting at more than half full on average, and while production at the treatment plants is slow, it remains steady," he said.

"That said, the system is vulnerable and we urge residents to fill back up supplies and be ever mindful of the level 4 water restrictions.

 " ... the council is continuing to work on short, and long term solutions to ensure a more reliable and resilient network in the future."

On Wednesday, Mayor Michael Kerr inspected the Mossman Water Treatment Plant’s filtering system which is critical to reducing turbidity in the water. 

He said turbidity levels were still higher than they were before Cyclone Jasper 51 days ago.

 "The network faces ongoing concerns due to the changing landscape caused by Jasper and the landslips that are dumping mud and debris into our water supply," the council spokesman said.

"Our latest advice is that some residents might be noticing milky water in their taps. There’s no need to be concerned – it’s caused by air in the water which will disappear after it’s poured into a container," he said.

"Crews have been working on some issues in the pipes (including small breaks and air locks) and this may have reduced the flow to your home or business.

"If you become aware of any leaks or other water supply issues please call us on 4099 9444.

"Again, we urge locals and visitors to play their part and respect the Level 4 water restrictions as the network is restored to its full working capacity."

Running water was gradually being turned on at Wonga Beach, Rocky Point, Miallo, Bamboo and Whyanbeel residents yesterday afternoon. 

A council spokesman said, however, the feed to the water network needed to be done carefully to avoid further water main breaks.

“The amount of treated drinking water is building across the network to allow water availability in the Port Douglas area,” he said.

“Our hard-working water crews are grateful for a small win overnight after Mother Nature gave the shire a reprieve from heavy rain.

“This means water can continue to be pushed through the pipeline network from Whyanbeel this morning and the plan is to start doing the same to Port Douglas today.

“Please be aware there are still hurdles to tackle before you’ll see water running from taps in affected communities, as chlorine levels and turbidity are monitored carefully.

“The photo shows the mouth of the Daintree River which is usually running clear. “The high level of silt and debris is what’s currently flowing through to our treatment plants.

“We understand you’d like clearer timeframes, but please understand crews are doing their best to restore the supply to you as quickly as possible, and we’ll share updated timings as soon as we can.”

The spokesman thanked residents for identifying problems too. 

“Overnight, a call from a local who spotted a broken pipe in the Whyanbeel catchment meant crews could move quickly to fix it.

“Please keep an eye out for updates which will continue throughout this morning and be sure to pick up supplies of bottled water and non-potable water.”


Continuous heavy rainfall has caused high turbidity at the water intakes, affecting the performance of water treatment plants at Mossman, Whyanbeel and Wonga.
Last night the council was forced to turn off water supply to Port Douglas following a severe drop in water reservoir levels. 

The council is working to increase the treated water reservoirs to a level which allows the water supply to be turned back on.
Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr is asking the community for patience during this difficult time.
“Staff are working hard to find short and long-term solutions to this current supply issue,” he said.

“We realise this is a challenging time for both residents, visitors and businesses but we ask for your patience while we get the water running again.”
It’s hoped Whyanbeel reservoir is at a sufficient level by midday today for water to be sent slowly through to Wonga, Rocky Point and Miallo residents.
“Council is working to restore the water as quickly as possible, but this needs to be done carefully to avoid further water main breaks,” Mayor Kerr said.
Locals are encouraged to visit the council’s website, dashboard and social media for the latest updates.

Douglas Shire Council turned off water supply to Port Douglas about 8pm on Sunday due to a suspected leak, causing all visitors and residents to the town to be left without water overnight.

Council said in a statement the supply was turned off after a significant drop in reservoir level, led it to believe there was a major leak in the pipeline.

“There is no (estimated time of arrival) ETA for turning the water back on in Port Douglas but engineers will be on site today to find a temporary solution,” the statement said.

“We appreciate this is a difficult time for everyone. We’ll be providing updates as soon as new information comes to hand.”

The statement said the Whyanbeel water treatment plant was producing at the moment.

“We are aiming to have the reservoir at 35 per cent before turning water on to Wonga, Rocky Point and Miallo.

“The Mossman water treatment plant was turned off overnight due to turbidity and we will try to turn the plant back on this morning.”

As at 7.40am today the reservoir at Mossman was at 15 per cent capacity, Port Douglas (12 per cent), Craiglie (seven per cent) and Whyanbeel (26 per cent).

“We appreciate this is a difficult time for everyone. We’ll be providing updates as soon as new information comes to hand,” the statement said.


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