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QUEENSLAND’S Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson has laid the blame for the fluoride overdose in Brisbane’s water supplies squarely on the shoulders of SEQ Water. The State Government admitted in late May that it had initially released incorrect information concerning the incident. The Government’s correct information revealed that the contamination happened in April, affecting up to 400 homes in the northern suburb of Joyner, as well as 200 children at a school camp. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh ordered an independent investigation into the incident, to be lead by International Water Centre chief Mark Pascoe. The report found the overdose was caused by a combination of equipment failures to which the operators did not respond appropriately. It recommends more training for staff. Robertson says he has made in clear to SEQ Water that the Government will not tolerate another such blunder. Should another incident occur, he says he will not hesitate in removing the board. The North Pine fluoride facility will be closed until at least September while repairs are completed.
THE QUEENSLAND Government has announced an independent investigation into a series of faults in the state’s new south-east water fluoridation system, which saw up to 20 times the allowable dose of fluoride added to drinking water supplies. Premier Anna Bligh told the State Parliament that International Water Centre chief Mark Pascoe would conduct the enquiry into the overdose incident. Pascoe will examine the design and operation of the North Pine fluoridation system, as well as its monitoring, notification and emergency systems. He will also look for possible breaches by authorities and report back to the government by 26 June. The Queensland Government revealed on 14 May that the fluoride was added to water which supplies around 4000 homes in Brisbane’s north. SEQWater, the government-owned company in charge of the system, has also stated that six of its water treatment plants did not put enough fluoride into the water in the first three months of 2009. Premier Bligh says the North Pine fluoride dosing system will remain offline while the investigation is carried out. Fluoride is currently being phased into Queensland’s drinking water supplies and will be available to 95% of the state’s population when the program is finished in December 2012.
SCOTTISH Water is using Micronics portable flowmeters to establish the load profiles of its water treatment sites. The PDFM IV is being used to survey wastewater flow rates at 111 facilities around the Dundee area. The company is undertaking the study so it can analyse the performance of its plants. The instrument has enabled its engineers to verify diurnal sewage patterns and prioritise future developments. According to the water provider, they chose the ultrasonic, clamp-on device because it provided non-contact analysis and could be easily installed. The survey has is 50% complete.
AIR Springs Supply has highlighted the use of its lifting bags to reposition and reduce stress on pipelines. The diversity of terrain and climate conditions across Australia provides particular challenges in the operation of long-haul pipelines. Having pipes running in good working order is vital for the security and safety of the fluid they are carrying. A single pipe may run over hundreds of kilometres and encounter everything from hills and ridges to gullies and trenches. The pipes have to be lifted or relocated in order to avoid such problems. This can inflict potentially dangerous strains on the structure. The Nacap group specialises in the layout of industrial pipelines. They use Pronal lifting bags to position the pipelines without creating excessive strain. Gauges along sections of the pipeline guide the rate of inflation needed for each particular structure. The company says the movements can be as small as a single millimetre and are more precise than hydraulics. CLP 67 cushions have the capacity to lift 67t as well as the ability to spread evenly over an area for smaller-scale control. The pipework provider claims the bags provide gentle handling of the pipes, resulting in a safer workplace, a lower risk of infrastructure damage and a more secure pipe system.
SPC Ardmona is using advanced hydro-optic disinfection (HOD) technologies as a treatment technique at their Shepparton plant. The Atlantium-developed UV out-of-water system, according to the company, reduces chlorine dioxide use and leaves no disinfection by-products. The system is applied to treat water used for both production and equipment washdown. The system was installed by Cleanteq and supplied by Eimco Water Technologies. The company says they no longer have to store and handle potentially hazardous chemicals. The process has also enhanced the process water purity and reduces the chances of chlorine-related corrosion of machinery. Ardmona draws chlorinated water from the local town supply that needs to be purified. The manufacturer claims the technology makes use of ultraviolet light lamps situated out of the water to disinfect the water. Water makes its way through system and distributed to all parts of the plant, including the cooling towers, food processing and liquid and steam cleaning. Sensors monitor the water flow rate and the transmission of UV rays. Ardmona says the technology has allowed them to replace other treatment techniques like chlorine, ozone and pasteurisation.
WORK has begun on a new Wivenhoe Dam pump station that will deliver water to the drought-stricken Toowoomba region, Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Stirling Hinchliffe announced. Mr Hinchliffe said when complete the station will pump water to Toowoomba at a rate of 490 litres per second. He said two remote-controlled pumps will move water through the 38-kilometre pipeline at a force roughly 12.5 times the normal household water pressure. “We are right on track to securing the water supply future for Toowoomba on time and on budget,” Minister Hinchliffe said. “Without this pipeline, the situation is grim. Despite the passing of an extraordinary wet season for much of South East Queensland, there is currently less water in the three dams which feed Toowoomba than the previous year. “Part of our response, as a government, is this pipeline. I’m delighted with progress. “Not only are we delivering on our commitment to jobs but we are delivering vital infrastructure projects for the State on budget and on time.’’ The smaller of the pumps will be housed on a 45 metre-long jetty suspended over Wivenhoe Dam. It will extract water from the dam and deliver it over a short distance to the bigger pump, powered by an 1850 kilowatt motor. The larger pump will deliver the water over the length of the pipeline, traversing challenging terrain, including a hill 265 metres above sea level. Member for Toowoomba North Kerry Shine said the pumps will operate non-stop for 12-18 months after the pipeline is commissioned early in 2010 to raise the water level in Cressbrook Dam to more than 20 per cent. Cressbrook is currently the lowest of the three Toowoomba dam levels at 8.7 per cent of its capacity (as at 4 August 2009). “Work on the intake jetty and its supporting pylons requires a large barge to be positioned in Wivenhoe Dam, where scuba divers will carry out any underwater activities,’’ Mr Shine said. “Close to 90 per cent of pipe is now in the ground with around five kilometres left to be laid.