DRASTIC steps are being put in place as Mount Isa faces a worsening water crisis.
Schools in the city have been told to prepare for the worst with some forced to shut down their water supply.
The schools have told parents to supply their kids with water from Monday, while other schools will supply water for students.
It’s believed there is a serious risk of the leased water filtration plant breaking down, halting the supply of any water to the city.
The Mount Isa Water Board (MIWB) issued a joint statement with the Mount Isa City Council yesterday, stating: “in the last 10 days water consumption has increased by more than 50 per cent”.
MIWB said the leased water filtration plant was struggling to cope with the increased demand.
“Less filtration of water will be able to take place meaning the water may be muddy,” the statement read.
MIWB said the water met health guidelines but “it will be difficult to maintain health guidelines” if water does not “decrease dramatically”.
It was announced on Thursday that a multi-million water filtration will be purchased by MIWB – but the burden of the acquisition will be shouldered by ratepayers.
At least two schools sent out text messages to parents yesterday outlining the immediate risk.
Other schools have been told to supply water for students with the possibility of the water filtration plant breaking down, stopping the supply of water to the city.
“Local Authorities have advised the College turn off all our drinking stations as of Mon 9th Feb. Students are each required TO BRING 2 x BOTTLES OF DRINKING WATER EVERY DAY until further notice,” a text message from Good Shepherd Catholic College stated.
“All hygiene precautions will be taken to ensure the health and safety of our staff and students until further advice is received. Thank you for your assistance.”
St Joseph’s Mount Isa sent out a similar text message signed off by principal Helen Wade to parents yesterday.
“Hello parents/ guardians, due to the latest update on the local water situation we are asking if you can please bring in two water bottles for your child from Monday, the message read.
“The school has a contingency plan in place to ensure the health and safety of all our staff and children until further notice is received from the local council.”
Mount Isa City Council deflected any blame for the water restrictions on schools.
“Council has no control or jurisdiction over the schools and it is unclear why they have issued these instructions. We would advise taking up the matter directly with the school.”
The developments come despite ratepayers being slugged with a $440 water levy to py for the council’s leased water filtration plant.
Residents have also been on strict water restrictions after multiple years of drought, but rainfall early this year – filling Lake Julius and bringing Lake Moondarra up to 85 per cent – evidently have not fixed the situation.
Earlier this week, Mount Isa City Council received a letter from the water board requesting urgent consideration of additional measures to be implemented immediately to manage demand.
The letter said the quality of available raw water had continued to deteriorate because of “large amounts of decaying plant matter” from recent heavy rain.
“There is no way to augment the treatment capacity to radically increase supply during February which is forecast to be a dry month,” Mount Isa Water Board chairwoman Rowena McNally wrote.
“I regretfully request the council’s urgent consideration of what measures could be immediately implemented to manage demand.”
Last month, council amended water restrictions to include an additional hour per day for watering with sprinklers from 6-7am.
Mount Isa City Council sent out a message yesterday advising residents of the water crisis.
“The situation with the water supply is being managed at present with consultation with the Mount Isa Water Board and Queensland Health to ensure that the water quality being supplied to the City continues to meet regulatory health standards,” the statement read.
“A letter drop has been conducted to households today by Council containing a summary of the water situation and asks residents to assist in ensuring that the quality of water is maintained through sensible usage and non-wastage of this precious and essential commodity.”
“Both Council and the Water Board appreciate the continued assistance of the community to urgently conserve water and reduce usage to ease the supply demand on the filtration system.”
“Council again stresses that the water supply meets all regulatory health standards and is being tested daily by both the Water Board and Mount Isa City Council as assurance.”
Several emails asking for clarification from the Mount Isa Water Board CEO Stephen Farrelly have gone unanswered.