Monday, December 01, 2008

QLD Water Polls

An article in today’s Courier Mail reports an opinion poll that was undertaken in Queensland by the independent company Galaxy Research. The survey was administered on the evenings of 26-27 November and is based on the opinions of 800 voters.

Three of the questions that were asked were on the topic of urban water management in South East Queensland. I managed to obtain a copy of the results (by asking nicely!) for a closer look. Here’s what they found...

Galaxy Poll:

In your opinion, is the Premier Anna Bligh doing enough to ensure the continued supply of water or not?

This week Anna Bligh announced changes to the government’s water plan, including the decision to delay the building of the Traveston Dam near Gympie, possibly for several years. Overall, do you support or oppose this decision to delay the building of the dam near Gympie?

In February the first part of the government’s water grid is due to come on line. This will include the recycling of waste water in South East Queensland. Do you support or oppose the inclusion of purified recycled water in the new water grid?

Would you support or oppose the inclusion of purified recycled water in the new water grid if it was only to be used as a back-up when dam levels dropped below 40%?

Queensland Water Commission Research:

Interestingly, the Galaxy Poll was somewhat different to the more pessimistic polling undertaken by the Queensland Water Commission this week. I also managed to obtain these results (more asking nicely!), as summarised below.

A 1000 person phone poll was conducted across South East Queensland over the week ending Monday 24 November.

Q. Do you think the drought in South East Queensland is over or not?

• 69% of people think we are still in drought

Q. Do you support or oppose adding Purified Recycled Water to our water supply?

• 55% support
• 39% are opposed


January 2007: 75% support
September 2008: 67% support
November 2008: 55% support


M: 63% Yes, 32% No
F: 48% Yes, 45% No
18 – 29 Years old: 63% Yes, 29% No
70+ Years old: 44% Yes, 51% No.

Q. Do you think Purified Recycled Water should always be included in the water supply or should be excluded if the dams reach a certain level

• 66% believe it should be excluded if it reaches a certain level

• Of those 66%, 30% say the dam should be 50% full before we should stop adding Purified Recycled Water

• Of those 66%, 29% say the dam should be 75% full before we should stop adding Purified Recycled Water

• Of those 66%, 8% say the dam should be 40% full before we should stop adding Purified Recycled Water

• Of those 66%, 9% say the dam should be 100% full before we should stop adding Purified Recycled Water

Q. Have you seen or heard anything in the media about purified recycled water over the past few weeks?

September 2008: 78% No, 21% Yes.
November 2008: 29% No, 70% Yes.

Q. What can you recall hearing or seeing? (November)

• Most of the discussion was basically about the safety of the water and it was all basically negative.
• That the hospital waste was going to go into it, which I don’t like.
• That it’s no good for you, that there are problems if something happens that there will be disease in the water.
• A lot of hysteria and garbage about safety particularly the expert from ANU, who is whipping up negative publicity, seems to be mostly what you hear.
• Safe water, that the water purification will be alright/ safe according to the experts.
• It was going to be added to the water supply, that it’s perfectly safe and that you’ll be able to drink it
• They’re trying to tell us there will be no issue and it will be really healthy. Others are saying it will be safe, but there’s a lot of opposition to it.

I'd be interested in your interpretations and conclusions!


Anonymous said...

It appears the closer recycled water gets to an individuals water supply - the higher the opposition in that particular community grows...!

Stuart Khan said...

Thanks Anonymous,

Yes, I agree that that is a valid conclusion. I suppose the idea may seem reasonable to some people as a somewhat abstract concept, but as it becomes closer to reality, it becomes less acceptable? Then again, perhaps it would be equally reasonable to assume that the sustained negative campaign by the Australian had a significant impact?

Anonymous said...

I am so lucky I live on 2 acres in Noosa's hinterland with rainwater tanks, a dam and abundant rain! If I could wave a magic wand today, I would insist all new buildings be built with concrete water tanks as their foundation or part of their structure. At least that way, you could control your own drinking water supply - i.e. no drinking fluoride or recycled sh*&%. Then it wouldn't worry me showering or whatever with the other stuff.

What if they find out in ten years time that the recycled stuff gives you a similar disease to Mad Cows?


Anonymous said...

maybe it's a fear of glossy brochure spin science ?

Anonymous said...

or maybe it's a trust issue?

more in the Australian today:

Recycled water boss denies conflicting roles

Greg Roberts | December 02, 2008

Article from: The Australian

THE bureaucrat charged with overseeing Queensland's recycled and desalinated water schemes and providing expert advice to the state Government also chairs a company which has had close commercial ties to the firm that will operate the projects.

Elizabeth Nosworthy denied there was a potential conflict of interest between her roles as chair of both the Queensland Water Commission and beleaguered investment management company Babcock & Brown.

The Sydney-based firm, which has an extensive water infrastructure portfolio, has been involved in several business relationships with French company Veolia.

Veolia has been advising the Queensland Government on the $2.5billion western corridor recycled water scheme and is developing the $1.2billion Gold Coast desalination plant.,25197,24737447-2702,00.html

Anonymous said...

Last year, AquaNet Sydney, a joint venture between Singapore Power International and Babcock & Brown, together with Veolia Water, were announced as the preferred tenderers for the $100million Rosehill recycled water scheme in Sydney.

Veolia and Babcock & Brown had earlier been unsuccessful in a joint bid to develop a $30million biosolids facility planned by Barwon Water in Victoria.

Also last year, Veolia Environmental Services and Transpacific Industries Group entered into a contract to buy Earthpower Technologies Sydney from Babcock & Brown.

Ms Nosworthy has juggled her responsibilities for planning the water grid with her chairmanship of Babcock & Brown, her directorships of other companies and her position as an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland.

The Australian reported last week that Veolia was helping to fund the $2.5million Chair of Water Recycling at the university.

Last year, Babcock & Brown hired as its infrastructure head Ross Rolfe, the then Queensland co-ordinator-general, who was involved in early planning for the grid.,25197,24737447-2702,00.html

Anonymous said...

What's is a closed loop in water recycling circles ?

Mark said...

Hi Stuart,

Polling is one thing, but we should remind ourselves that decisions need to be made very carefully regardless of public opinion.

It is true that a lot of people have faith in what has been told to the populace about recycling, but others tend to be skeptical, and deeply so.

What I believe the water commission needs to consider is that the entire population (not just a majority) should have 100% confidence in their drinking water supplies.

Can the water commission predict what those deeply opposed to recycled water will do if recycled water is added? Will they buy bottled water instead? They wish! I'm thinking I would boil my water and perhaps put it through another pass of RO. But others will probably find a thousand and one creative and not so creative ways to avoid drinking recycled water. Can these behaviors be predicted, and would these have unintended consequences?

Just a few thoughts.

Anonymous said...

and some will have to put their families through the hassle and trauma of moving to a different state - where the government is against recycled WASTE water for drinking water.

Anonymous said...

Clarke seeks water grid recognition

The Gold Coast Mayor is calling for the Queensland Water Commission to recognise the Gold Coast's input into the south-east water grid.

Ron Clarke says the Hinze Dam is now part of the grid and its contribution should further delay the 40 per cent trigger to add recycled water to the Wivenhoe system.

Councillor Clarke says the Gold Coast's total contribution could negate any need for recycled water.

"If you add ours to the 45 per cent that is in the other three dams then that would push it up to over 50 per cent, the dam's full so the reckoning point even further, but if you also add the 125 megalitres a day from the desalination plant then that would extend it so much that I don't think we would ever reach that point again," he said.

Anonymous said...

Recycled water creating a stink

THE thought of drinking water containing recycled hospital waste is enough to force the couple, who have called Brisbane home since 1960, to pack their bags and move across the border.

The Cannon Hill residents are ready to move to northern NSW if the State Government proceeds with its plans to add recycled sewage to southeast Queensland’s dams.

Anonymous said...

Queensland water commissioner tied to deals for $9bn grid

Greg Roberts | December 04, 2008

Article from: The Australian

A COMPANY chaired by Queensland Water Commission head Elizabeth Nosworthy has business ties to several firms with contracts for the $9 billion southeast Queensland water grid.

However, Ms Nosworthy said she had no involvement in the selection of the contractors.

She has denied the potential for a conflict of interest arising from the disclosure in The Australian this week that a company she chairs, the beleaguered investment managers Babcock & Brown, has had commercial relationships with the French infrastructure giant Veolia.

The Queensland Water Commission is overseeing the southeast Queensland water grid and is responsible for providing expert advice to the Government.

Veolia has been advising the commission on the $2.5 billion western corridor recycled water scheme and is developing the $1.2 billion Gold Coast desalination plant -- two key planks of the water grid.

Veolia's partner in developing the desalination plant is infrastructure construction firm John Holland, whose share of the construction contract for the plant is worth $700 million.

The plant was opened by Premier Anna Bligh last weekend and will produce 125 megalitres of potable water a day.

John Holland is working on a $300 million contract for the upgrade of the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal in Mackay, which was awarded to the firm by Babcock & Brown, the owners of the terminal.

An $84 million rail loop was built last year as part of the state Government's expansion of the Dalrymple port. An environmental management plan for the expansion was operated by Laing O'Rourke.

Laing O'Rourke is a partner under the southeast Queensland water grid for the design and construction of the Luggage Point recycled water plant.

Last year, a Babcock & Brown consortium was awarded a $US820 million ($1.3 billion) contract to build and manage the Miami access tunnel in Florida.

The consortium's operator is Transfield Services, a partner in the design and construction of the Eastern Pipeline in the water grid. The pipeline connects the Luggage Point and Bundamba recycled water treatment plants.

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said Ms Nosworthy clearly had a potential conflict of interest between her public sector and private business roles.

"There is no suggestion of impropriety or corruption or anything like that," Senator Joyce said.

"The issue is a perception of conflict of interest. When you are dealing with public money, the public needs to be assured there is no possibility of competing interests."

However, Ms Nosworthy is not under pressure to resign from Senator Joyce's state Liberal National Party colleagues.

Queensland Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg declined to comment on whether he believed Ms Nosworthy had a potential conflict of interest.

A commission spokesman said Ms Nosworthy had no involvement in the awarding of water grid contracts.

Ms Nosworthy declined to comment further.,25197,24748263-5006786,00.html

Anonymous said...

Queensland Parliament Online E-Petition
Subject: Prohibit the use of recycled sewerage effluent for drinking purposes
Num of Signatures: 13054

Mark said...

A billion federal dollars for urban water --

For storm-water and de-sal projects but notably not for effluent recycling.

Seems effluent treatment is out of favor. Interesting ....

Anonymous said...

Khan, (Chief sewer sipper and propaganda minister.) Something stinks in Queensland and it's not just the sewerage. Government and corporate greed is driving the water crises. The Government is hooked on using waste to raise revenue and is just using the public drinking water supplies as cash cows (and a cheap means of disposal), failing for decades to invest in new water infrastructure and failing to maintain existing infrastructure. Government greed counts more to making profit from the sale and production of recycled sewage than the safety and health of the consuming public. The assets of the people are being exploited by the Government. Health concerns are not a priority of this greedy Government, profiteering is. After the name change and marketing was put in place the next step in the sewerage shenanigans was to hire industry friendly scientists. The Government hired their own 'independant experts'to defend and promote their recycled sewage product who were bought in various ways to manipulate and shape science. The Government set out to build a body of science around the notion that hazardous highly toxic, industrial and hospital diseased wastes are rendered harmless by simply passing the material through a sieve. The public is too smart too believe that nonsense. The Government and their propaganda hit men have used every opportunity to discredit emminent scientists and dismiss information associated with consuming recycled sewage. Because it is clear and odorless recycled sewage is being fraudently marketed as a safe user friendly product without revealing that it is full of highly toxic chemicals and diseases. The Government routinely runs massive multi million dollar advertising campaigns, complete with graphic images to warn smokers of the dangers, yet strangely enough the public has not received any warnings or informtion on the same, (plus many more) cancer causing agents being discharged to the sewerage system--our new drinking source. What was once viewed as a nuisance and a liability is now being recast as a valuable resource. The Government has decided on recycled sewage as they just love a good project that will splash lots of tax-payer money around. The arrogant, lying, self serving, contemptuous Bligh Government and their science-for-hire know-it-alls as well as their spin doctor friends in the media have insisted that recycled sewage is 'safe'to drink and is not a threat to human health, with no supporting evidence to back their absurd claims they have continually given the public their assurances in regards to it's so called 'safety'. We were once told that asbestos was safe, too, with no threat to human health. Australia now has the highest rate of mesothelioma in the world. The Government also once recognised that working with recycled sewage was an occupational health hazard, then approved it's use for drinking purposes. If they all believed in the so called 'safety'of their recycled sewage product so much why did the Bligh Government find it necessary to introduce a new law that absolves themslves as well as the water service providers and operators in the event of any health problems arising from consuming recycled sewage? They cannot be sued, do not have to pay compensation and therefore are not accountable to the people. The onus is on the public. This is just another demonstration of utter contempt that this greedy, self serving Government has for the people they are being paid well to represent. The claims that recycled sewage is done all over the world is absolute rubbish. The announcement of the introduction of the Governments bizzare recycled sewage experiment made major world news headlines, a good indication no other country in the world deliberately adds recycled sewage to their drinking water supplies, One of the many lawyer firms representing the Government has said that recycled sewage is a new product and that the effects on humans and the environment of it's long term use is not fully known. The act further recognises the need to offer some form of protection from the potentially huge liability that water industry players could be subjected to through the use of recycled sewage. Does'nt sound too safe, now does it Khan? If it was so safe there would not be the need to introduce a new law that protects the Government, water service providers and operators from law suits. The Government and the cash strapped water researchers as well as their spin doctor friends in the the media have gone to great lengths to promote recycled sewage and to conceal information on the tens of thousands of highly toxic chemicals which are being allowed to be routinely dumped into the sewerage. No information on the drug resistant diseases or the health risks or consequences of drinking from a highly contaminated source. Since recycled sewage is an extremely high risk area the public is entitled to all relevant information that has the potential to cause serious illness and death. The Government has no right to withhold that vital information. The Government has ignored public health concerns while the so called 'yuck factor' has been exploited for all it's worth. We all know the (shonky) polls have been designed to elicit answers favourable to the governments cause. It is a well known fact that the vast majority of the public is strongly opposed to being poisoned. Get off your soap box Khan and stop grandstanding. You have no doubt been highly paid by the Government to provide data that support their views on recycled sewage. I am considering becoming a researcher too. All I need to do is plagiarise and falsify data, just like you Khan. You can stop the pretence now. I think most people would be well aware that you and Paul Greenfield to name a few have vested financial interests in the recycled sewage scheme. By the way Khan, for your information Bligh did in fact say that the public will be drinking 100 percent recycled sewage. That information was contained in reports tabled in parliament. The media news sources as we all know, especially the trashy tabloid,
the Courier mail work only in the best interests of the Government and are being handsomely paid to support the Governments views on recycled sewage. They will not publish anything negative they view as having the potential to de-rail the Governments bizzare recycled sewage scheme. Since everyone is entitled to an opinion , I would appreciate my comments being posted on your website.

Meredith Jayne.

Stuart Khan said...

Hi Meredith,

Thanks for your note. I am happy to post it to the website as requested and have done so here.



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