FLUSHED OUT: Water flowing from the Bray Park water treatment facility on Tuesday.
FLUSHED OUT: Water flowing from the Bray Park water treatment facility on Tuesday. Scott Davis

Water restrictions continue over the next few days

MURWILLUMBAH residents can expect water restrictions to continue up until to mid-next week, as works continue to flush salt water out of Tweed's water supply.

Since Monday night, Tweed Shire Council has been working to improve the water quality of the Tweed supply after incorrect predictions over the high tide saw saltwater overflow into the Bray Park weir.

This is the third time in the past 10 to 15 years that salt water has encroached into the Tweed water supply, including once in the early 2000s and again in January, 2014.

While the current water supply is safe to drink, the council's water and wastewater manager Anthony Burnham said works have been ongoing to ensure the water quality is brought back to normal levels, costing the council a minimum of $100,000.

"We're getting more improved water now than we were earlier in the week,” he said.

"We've got into the good range but it's still not what our normal good levels usually are.

"We've put a temporary pump in to pump the water from the Bray Park weir. Our fixed pump is normally a large pump which draws water from the depth, which is where the salty water is.

"We're trying to use the fixed pump to draw clean water from the surface as much as we can.

"The water we are getting and treating at the moment is certainly a better quality than it was on Monday and Tuesday and that's improving each day.

"We now have a dredge on the weir pool which is allowing the fresh water from (Clarrie Hall Dam) to flush out the saltwater directly downstream of the weir.

"(The restrictions) should be fairly short lived once we're able to pump normally. We're talking about another four or five days.”

Mr Burnham said there could be a chance in coming days that Banora Point, Tweed Heads and Tweed Coast residents will also experience salty water.

"If we are still struggling to only pump the smaller amount from the surface and we have to draw the water form a deeper depth, then it's going to start to spread to the further reaches of Murwillumbah and the northern coastal system,” he said.

"I'm hopeful it won't be too bad. If it did, it would be a lot less significant than it would be in Murwillumbah. We would be producing much better water by that stage then we were from Murwillumbah on Monday.”

Mr Burnham said a series of combined weather elements, including westerly winds, high water temperatures and the eclipse, caused council to misinterpret the predictions it uses to manage water flow.

"The king tides that we might get once a year have the potential to overflow the Bray Park weir but the reason this doesn't occur is that if there's significant flow in the river then the water coming down stream prevents the tide from breaking over the weir,” Mr Burnham said.

"Historically we've been protected by the natural form of the river. The actual tides were over 400mm over the prediction.

”Looking at the Bureau (of Meteorology) and some other follow ups, it is an anomaly of a fairly significant size and it was experienced along the whole length of the New South Wales coast and south-east Queensland.”

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