Born-and-bred Tyalgum resident Bruce Bartrim at the algae-infested Oxley River weir.
Born-and-bred Tyalgum resident Bruce Bartrim at the algae-infested Oxley River weir. Felicia Kosegi

Tyalgum water "safe to drink"

BLUE-green algae has infested what little water remains at the Oxley River weir and has forced Tweed Shire Council to begin carting water to Tyalgum.

The tankers rolled into town carrying precious water to top-up the water supply in sweltering heat yesterday, as a bushfire continued to burn nearby at The Pinnacle.

Council has advised residents that level 2 water restrictions are now in place to preserve water trucked in from the Bray Park treatment plant.

Tyalgum resident and deputy captain of the Rural Fire Service unit, Bruce Bartrim, said the village was hoping mother nature would send some rain, to fix the water supply and put out the fire.

“The last week of really hot weather has taken its toll, no doubt about that, it used to be really green here but it is drying up,” Mr Bartrim said.

But this is nothing new for the village, as Mr Bartrim said the town’s water supply had become undrinkable a few times in the last decade.

Since 1965, Tyalgum has had its own water supply, separate from the rest of the Tweed Shire, and the tankers are depositing water in the local reservoir.

With level 2 water restrictions now in place, the use of fixed hoses, sprinklers and soaker hoses are banned, as is the washing of driveways, paved areas and roofs. Agricultural irrigation is also not permitted.

Council water manager Anthony Burnham explained that water carting was necessary as Tyalgum’s water treatment plant does not have the technology to remove taste, odour and toxin issues associated with blue-green algal blooms.

“To protect the water supply, water is being transported from Bray Park water treatment plant where powder-activated carbon (PAC) is used to treat water affected by blue-green algae,” Mr Burnham said.

Tweed Shire Council is conducting regular sampling and analysis of the affected waters and is treating extracted water with PAC to ensure the safety of the water supply.

Mr Burnham said residents should not be concerned about consuming PAC-treated water.

“Water treated by powder-activated carbon removes taste and odour issues and the water treated in this way is safe to drink,” Mr Burnham said.

“No toxins have been found in the current blooms on the Tweed and treated water without toxins doesn’t present a health issue – it’s more about the aesthetic qualities of the water,” he said.

The blue-green algae bloom in the Oxley River extends between the Byangum Bridge and Tyalgum.

Meanwhile, a red alert has been issued by the North Coast Regional Algal Coordinating Committee and Tweed Shire Council for Bray Park weir on the Tweed River and for the Oxley River.

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