Would you drink it?
By YVONNE McLEAN
THE Gold Coast City Council is investigating turning treated waste water into drinking water - but its own water supply spokesperson has slammed the option as "highly dangerous".
The council is looking at the feasibility of pumping recycled water from its treatment works into the upper reaches of the Hinze Dam to be absorbed into the reservoir as part of the potable supply.
In a recent council water future promotion, this is described as one of the emerging water sources - the indirect potable reuse of highly-treated waste water for drinking purposes.
A questionnaire on the promotion brochure now circulated seeks community opinions on treated waste water being stored in the dam and treated ultimately to drinking standard.
However, council's own spokesperson on water supply, Cr Daphne McDonald, has described such a move as "highly dangerous and damaging", one that could spark a huge public protest.
"I want to alert all the residents about that investigation that's going on - everyone must be alert to a water re-use fraught with danger, a potential health hazard for all we know. Our water supply dams must be maintained as pristine as humanly possible. To me it is unthinkable that waste water, no matter to what fine degree it is treated, should be pumped into our major source of drinking water, and pumped in vast quantities," she said.
"I am keen to receive community feedback for the scheme which I must add is only an investigation at this stage."
Cr McDonald said the indirect potable reuse of waste water investigation had been an initiative of the Gold Coast Water Futures Committee comprising council and community representatives.
"A similar method of waste water re-use is implemented overseas but in countries devoid of alternative water sources such as desalination," she said.
"What is right elsewhere is not necessarily right here and such an argument does not hold water."
The only way to utilise waste water was the two-pipe, two-tap supply system installed at a number of new housing estates in the north of the Gold Coast by developers, according to Cr McDonald.
One tap to turn on pure water, another for exterior and non-human use purposes.
"We face a number of health hazards - in the food and drink we consume, and there is a very high duty of care in this case by the Gold Coast City Council to ensure the water our community consumes is clean and pure. And the public demands it," Cr McDonald said.