Thursday, July 27, 2006

Luggage Point to Wivenhoe (and back again)

Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, expressed support today for the concept of planned potable water recycling for Brisbane. It would add to an existing plan to take advanced-treated recycled water from Brisbane’s largest sewage treatment plant (Luggage Point) to the city’s largest water storage reservoir (Wivenhoe Dam). As reported in the Courier Mail:

"I am saying in an upfront and transparent way today that it would not be very difficult to build a spur line to put this recycled water into Wivenhoe," Mr Beattie said. "So I want the community to know that. I am saying, however, that we wouldn't do it without some form of mandate from the community and there are a number of options, including the next election."

It must be said that Beattie has such a high margin of popularity, that it behoves him to make a few gutsy decisions. However, as the Mayor of Toowoomba could confirm, supporting planned potable recycling really is a gutsy decision.

Until people have really had the opportunity to consider the facts, our initial reactions to potable recycling are normally those of fear and disgust. Most people are not aware that recycling is the normal job-description for water and that it happens, -in an unplanned way- throughout the world. Some people may never be convinced that dirty water can be effectively and reliably cleaned. Others simply do not want to be convinced. Politicians will, as always, exploit this ignorance (wilful or otherwise) for their own political gain.

Scare campaigns about planned potable water recycling are so easy to run. All you need are a few keywords to Google and a willingness to quote facts out of context. Take, for instance, Dr Oppenheimer’s bomb that was dropped in Toowoomba this week. An anonymously authored ‘freelance’ article, was posted to an anti-potable water recycling blog. The article recycled a few quotes from the internet that were already of out context (and misrepresent the conclusions of the reports that they refer to). However, the anonymous author managed to go one step further in the deception by (not so) clever juxtaposition of information, -tying accurate, but unrelated facts together to suggest some relevance which does not exist.

It is so easy to present information that relates to conventional sewage treatment or low pressure (high porosity) membrane treatment and position it such to suggest that it has some relevance to advanced treatment processes such as those proposed for Toowoomba or used at Luggage Point. It’s been happening in Toowoomba and will certainly happen in Brisbane. Major Brisbane newspapers will publish it because it helps to sell papers on Sundays.

Premier Beattie is obviously well aware that scientific knowledge and understanding firmly support the safety of potable water recycling using advanced treatment technology. The problem that he will face is that many couldn’t care less. Even once the deceptions described above are revealed, some people will continue to argue in favour of the article. For some people, the question has nothing to do with science; -it’s a matter of principle. Planned potable water recycling is apparently “unethical”.

Nonetheless, Premier Beattie should remain optimistic. I am confident that the majority of Australians are perfectly capable of investigating and considering facts in an objective manner. For this reason, I think it is essential for Beattie to dedicate his efforts towards providing the community with access to scientifically-supportable information. Don’t just give us the sales pitch, -give us the facts. Access to accurate information will increase support for planned potable water recycling and will truly allow Beattie to claim a mandate from a well informed community.

10 comments:

Jaun said...

Mayne he was paid $22Mil if he could get Brisbane to take, like Thorley being offered $11Mil.

How ever you look at it, Beattie is only trying to FORCE Toowoomba people to vote YES, because he knows there is no way on earth he will do what he has stated. This is another lie to make the undecided in Toowoomba to vote Yes.

I guarantee he will withdraw this statement when the NO vote wins.

Stuart Khan said...

G’day Jaun,

Your level of cynicism towards politics is impressive! I can’t blame you for that, but I have trouble understanding how Beattie’s statement could possibly force anybody in Toowoomba to vote yes. I’d be grateful if you would explain that one for me.

Jaun said...

The reason is his previous statement, that no city in QLD will drink recycled sewerage unless an Armageddon situation arises. He has now changed this to help the undecided or even some no voters to vote yes. Beattie knows his statement put a damper on Toowoomba’s referendum (Why should we drink it, if no where else will in QLD will be drinking it). His first statement made Toowoomba feel down right left out of the state of QLD, and not to support any water options for Toowoomba was also a BAD political move giving our situation. Now he’s tyring remove the nasty bitter taste people have for him as we do for our Mayor.

This new statement is just another lie to ease the tension in Toowoomba, and move some weight from his back. It was made quiet clear that he will look at recycled water if Toowoomba votes ‘YES’, so IMO this change form NEVER to MAYBE is just a plot to help our Mayor fight a losing battle.

mick said...

I hope you see why we feel like lab rats here stuart. were just a test case for this country in toowoomba. I have been hearing for a while now about the luggage point too wievenhoe recycled sewage pipe idea. It is the (so called) armagedeon opition. It's purpose is too try too keep the dams above 10%. which will fail as after a while the water goes anyway. recycled or not. Rain will solve the problem (but for how long??). peter beattie doesn't know what he is doing at the moment. neither does thorley. they seemed worried about what is going too happen if the no vote wins. Polliticans should start bringing cases too the people first before jumping around like paranoid idiots!! a simple phone poll and community awareness could of prevent this. The rain will come again. people have just got too have faith. I just hope when it does we will learn better ways too harness water. Dams (properly discussed of with affecting residents towns, shires and cities), storm water harvesting , recycled effulent for industrial and agricultrue.city parks and gardens etc

the ideas are there lets use them instead of jumping the gun that isn't that bad yet! toowoomba does have other water options beside recyling effulent for drinking! It's obviously not a popular issue. but i do so the potential for it too be used for industral and agraculutre and parks etc. not for drinking thou drinking.

Stuart Khan said...

G’day Mick,

Perhaps this quote from today’s Australian will make you feel less like a “lab rat”:

Towns already drink recycled sewage

...But Water Minister Henry Palaszczuk's office confirmed yesterday that 12 communities were using recycled sewage discharged from 13 communities upstream.

Fernvale, Esk, Lowood, Toogoolawah, Gatton and Laidley pump recycled sewage into the Mt Crosby Weir system, which supplies drinking water for Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and Beenleigh residents.

Dalby and Chinchilla drink Toowoomba's treated sewage, put back into the Condamine River, while Caloundra and Maroochy shires drink Maleny's treated wastewater from the Baroon Pocket Dam.

Maryborough drinks from Gympie, Kingaroy drinks its own, Goondiwindi drinks from Inglewood and Beaudesert residents take theirs from Kooralbin.

Ipswich Mayor Peter Pisasale said recycled sewage was being used to top up dams around the country and it was ridiculous to suggest Toowoomba would be the first to adopt such practices. "People are kidding themselves if they think they aren't already drinking it," he said...

Greg said...

Here we go again! Opening up Pandoras box even more are we Stuart? Be careful! This could bring down governments and environmental groups all over the place!

Greg said...

Here let me push it open even further for you! Would you like some more? Of course we have to believe what certain people tell us don't we!? or should we just read between the lines?

Stuart Khan said...

Thanks Greg,

I presume that your point is that conventionally-treated sewage effluent contains trace concentrations of chemicals and that if this sewage effluent is discharged into a river, then the chemicals will then be in the river? If so, there is plenty of evidence to support you on that.

One solution to this type of pollution (better than dilution) is advanced treatment using processes such as reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation. Unfortunately, such processes are unaffordable for most towns and cities. In Australia, most towns and cities would require state and/or federal government financial assistance to implement such advanced water treatment schemes.

mick said...

But it's treated water not recycled! they have natural flowing streams that take out most of the baddies and fertilize the banks etc as nature intended. nature plays a part in it where as pumping water back into a still dam will do nothing. personally i would like too see recycled water for industry and agreculture etc (as you know) I just think that more long term testing on a 25% effulent mix for drinking is needed.

dinuka said...

Hey Mr Khan, I visited the luggage point sewerage plant near Brisbane and it smelt of human phecies, can you please explain.

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