By YVONNE McLEAN
THE next step in the Gold Coast City Council's desalination project -- removing salt from the sea to render the water potable, will begin within days. Due to arrive from Mackay (the vessel may now be anchored offshore) is a dredge, looking something like an oil rig which will tunnel 30 metres below the seabed to 'test the waters' for desalination.
The city council's water sustainability committee spokesperson, Cr Daphne McDonald, said the dredge or rig would anchor two kilometres out to sea off Sea Street, Tugun, at the site of the proposed pipeline outlet which would run from the desalination plant to be built near the Tugun tip site and underground, under the Gold Coast Highway, to offshore.
Cr McDonald said contracting the vessel which was now at Mackay would save the big cost of hiring a dredge from Singapore.
"Progressing so quickly with desalination proves the leadership of the Gold Coast City Council to the rest of Queensland in practical work to utilise alternate water resources," she said.
"Desalinated water will be used only in emergencies. Council has agreed to the State Government's request to double our intended source for the use of nearby local authorities. In every way, we have by example shown the way in water conservation, so it makes me extremely angry to hear Premier Beattie's criticism of us for suggesting lifting the ban on pressure hosing to enable our residents to clear off pathway dirt and slime that had accumulated over a long time," she said.
"Our proposed 'wet weekend' apparently sparked the Premier's so-called dramatic announcement that he would form a commission to control south-east Queensland water."
"The announcement of a Commission to administer south-east Queensland water was made as if it were a sudden decision. Yet the Premier has announced this intention some months ago. Also, the reaction to a wet weekend, with such a minor change allowing people to clean paths was over the top," Cr McDonald said.
"In October 2005, level two restrictions were signed off by 13 local councils and included the right for cars, windows and boats to be hosed at any time according to the odds and evens system. How could any government possibly take umbrage at the Gold Coast, with a dam running over, allowing a few hours over a weekend to hose down slippery paths," she said.
According to city planning chairman Cr Ted Shepherd, a lot of water would flow before the government's takeover of the water supply took effect.
"If the plan includes assuming control of the Hinze Dam for instance, council will be looking for compensation not only for the land resumed for the dam, but for the actual building of the reservoir," Cr Shepherd said.
"The government plan could result in consumers paying more for water," he said.
It is understood local authorities would be represented on the commission.