Water quality

A clean, sustainable water supply is vital for our health and one of the most important issues facing the region. Water undergoes regular and thorough testing at many points of the treatment and distribution system. 

 

Water treatment process

Treatment process for raw water

Water in dams (and rivers) is called raw water, and contains a lot of dust, dirt and decomposing leaves. Raw water also contains many kinds of living organisms such as tiny plants and animals and bacteria. Most bacteria are harmless, but there are some - the pathogenic types - which can cause illness in humans. These bacteria can be removed by various treatment processes, including chlorination.

At the water treatment plant on Mount Kynoch the dirt particles are removed through processes of flocculation and filtration. Even the fine particles are removed - they are made to join into large clumps that will be heavy enough to sink. The flocculation process uses a coagulant mixed in the water to cause this to happen. The coagulant itself is removed from the water following this process.

Process stages:

  1. Coagulation: Poly aluminium chloride (PAC), is added to help small solid particles stick together, forming larger particles that then settle in-situ and can be easily removed.
  2. Flocculation: PAC helps the suspended particles join to form larger particle or “floc”. The quantity of the PAC is controlled so that it clarifies (clears) the water which flows from the top of the tank and the particles sink to the bottom as a sludge. This sludge is removed and pumped to a second clarifier and then to Wetalla.
  3. Filtration: Particles are removed as water passes through filters or membranes.
  4. Chlorination: Chlorine is added to the water to kill the harmful micro-organisms that might be present in the water and also to stop them from regrowing in the distribution system. Contact time for the chlorine disinfection process is provided in storage tanks at the Water Treatment Plant and also at various other locations throughout the water distribution system. Once treated, a small residual amount of chlorine remains in the water to provide continuing protection from micro-organisms until the water is delivered to your tap.

Treatment process for bore water

Bore water (also called groundwater) comes from rain which has seeped down through rock layers in the ground into the aquifers, or cavities, in the rocks. Some of this water comes from a long way underground - Toowoomba's twenty bores range between 30m-100m deep into the basalt aquifer.

Process stages

  1. Groundwater goes through a natural filtering process as it seeps through the rocks.
    • Sometimes it picks up high levels of minerals which cause it to become 'hard'. If water is hard it will not lather well so some of our water is made 'soft', or easy to lather, by passing it through special filters.
  2. Bore water is chlorinated before passing into the water reticulation system to ensure it is free of any harmful bacteria that may have entered it after it is pumped from underground.

 

Water quality

We are proud to have won the IXOM 2017 Best Tap Water in Australia award in 2017. A 10 litre sample from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant won the popular vote with more than 120 people tasting and then rating each of the unmarked state winners in Launceston’s mall.

Water samples are tested regularly to ensure residents have a safe and secure drinking water supply.

Occasionally you may notice your water is a little different to usual. Read below for our recommended water quality solutions. 

Discoloured or cloudy water

Discoloured or cloudy water is usually because of a change within your water pipes. An increase in water flow rate or swift change in direction of water flow in the pipes can stir up sediment. The sediment makes the water look discoloured but is harmless, and safe to drink.

What to do

To clear up the discolouration try running a garden tap closest to your water meter for around 2 minutes and then see if the water is clear when run into a glass. Remember to catch the running water in a bucket to use on your garden.

If the water doesn't clear, contact us.

White water

When air is trapped inside pressurised water pipes, it is converted to tiny air bubbles which gives water a white or milky appearance. This water is still safe to drink.

Air can enter the water supply causing the discolouration during repairs to the pipe network.

What to do

Catch water in an open container and it will become clear within a few minutes. The bubbles will clear from the bottom of the glass upwards.

If the water doesn't clear, contact us.

Hard water is caused by a higher than usual concentration of calcium and magnesium salts in water. Water hardness levels are monitored on a regular basis by Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant in conjunction with Laboratory Services and reported as mg/L (milligrams per litre) of calcium carbonate.

The water pressure zone map below and pressure zone/water hardness list is to be used in conjunction with the water hardness calculator to determine the correct setting required for certain appliances eg dishwashers.

Pressure zone and water hardness rating averages

  • City: 150 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Freneau Pines: 120 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Gabbinbar: 120 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Gabbinbar High: 120 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Horners: 160 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Kynoch: 110 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Lofty: 110 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Northern: 120 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Picnic Point: 120 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Platz North: 120 mg/l calcium carbonate
  • Platz South: 120 mg/l calcium carbonate 

Water hardness calculator

This is used for determining water hardness in dishwashers etc.

  • Alkaline Earth Ions mmol/l: 0.01
  • Alkaline Earth Ions m.equiv/l: 0.020
  • ppm CaCO3 : 1.00
  • German Degrees od: 0.056
  • English Degrees oe: 0.07
  • French Degrees of: 0.100

To convert this reading to that required in dishwasher setup literature multiply the hardness of water in mg/l x type of degrees. 

For example: if hardness in mg/L equals 124mg/L and a dishwasher setting required the value in German Degrees (0d), the calculation would be 124mg/L x 0.056 = 6.9 0d.

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The water is safe to drink. The smell will disappear simply by leaving a jug of water uncovered in the fridge for a short period of time.

The water is safe to drink. If there is an odour or 'dirt' in the water, flush the tap for approximately 1 minute before using. This will flush the pipes out. 

Your reticulated drinking water is safe. It comes from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant in Toowoomba and is piped to Oakey. It is safe to drink and for indoor and outdoor use.

History of Oakey’s water supply

Oakey residents can be assured their reticulated town water supply complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and is safe to drink.

The PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl Substances) contamination from the Oakey Army Aviation Base impacts only groundwater sources. There is no relationship between the underground water aquifers (bore water supply) and Council’s reticulated water supply.

As a drought measure from October 2008 until November 2012 the water coming from the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply was supplemented with water sourced from the ground water aquifer and treated at the Oakey Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plant. Analysis of the treatment process (including Reverse Osmosis and blending with water from Toowoomba) from October 2008 to November 2012, means Council engineers are of the opinion that water supplied during that period would have complied with the latest USEPA Guidelines (May 2016). The US Environmental Protection Agency has advised that ‘public water systems can treat source water with high-pressure membrane systems (e.g. reverse osmosis) to remove PFOA and PFOS from drinking water*.

Oakey has been supplied with water from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant since the commissioning of the Toowoomba-Oakey pipeline in December 1997.

*Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U. (2016) Drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/groundwater-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-healthadvisories-pfoa-and-pfos (Accessed: 11 August 2016).

Community concern regarding Oakey water

Our job as Council is to advocate and support our Oakey community. We share the community’s concern for the damage that has been done to the reputation of our town and we are urging the Department of Defence to show some empathy for our residents and to provide future certainty. 

Next steps

We are liaising with the Department of Defence to understand their position and how they plan to resolve the issue for the people affected.

The Commonwealth Department of Health has asked Food Standard Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to develop health-based guidance values (HBGV) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).

For further information on the above assessments and the issue of private bore water use, please contact the Department of Defence on 1800 136 129.

Key terms used when discussing Oakey water

  • Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is used primarily to control fires involving flammable liquids such as fuel and oil.
  • Bore water is groundwater that has been accessed by drilling a bore into water storages underground called aquifers.
  • PFOS and PFOA are perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and were active ingredients in aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) used extensively worldwide, and within Australia, from the 1970s by both civilian and military authorities to extinguish liquid fuel fires.
  • Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply is drinking water currently supplied by three local dams, Cooby, Perseverance and Cressbrook, and the Wivenhoe Dam pipeline. Oakey township’s reticulated water supply is sourced exclusively from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant in Toowoomba.

 

Fluoridation of drinking water

Fluoride has been added to the treated water at Mt Kynoch water treatment plant since April 2010. This means residents supplied from the Toowoomba water supply scheme receive fluoridated water. At the Ordinary Meeting of 19 February 2013, we decided to continue fluoridation at the Mt Kynoch water treatment plant, but to not fluoridate water produced at any other water treatment plant or bore supply.

The Toowoomba water supply scheme supplies drinking water to all of Toowoomba city, and the localities of Highfields, Cabarlah, Meringandan East, Oakey, Jondaryan, Kingsthorpe, Gowrie Junction, Gowrie Mountain, Meringandan West, Goombungee, Cotswold Hills, Torrington, Glenvale and Westbrook.

Providing water that contains fluoride is a directive from the Department of Health. Read more about this on the Queensland Health water fluoridation webpage.

The water supplied is a mixture of treated dam water from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant and bore water supplied by up to 25 bores, although not all bores will be in operation at any one time. The average composition of water supplied across the entire Toowoomba water supply scheme in 2011/12 was 68.5% dam water and 31.5% bore water. These percentages will vary from year to year depending on dam levels, the number of bores available and changes to water quality.

Fluoride is dosed to the target concentration of 0.8 mg/L, plus or minus 0.1 mg/L, as required by the Water Fluoridation Regulation 2008. Toowoomba’s bores do not contain measureable amounts of natural fluoride, meaning that the only fluoride in the drinking water supplied to residents of the Toowoomba water supply scheme is that added at the Mt Kynoch water treatment plant. In practice, this means that the amount of fluoride in the water supplied to a particular area will be directly proportional to the percentage of dam water.

Distribution of fluoridated water in the Toowoomba Water Supply Scheme

The Toowoomba water supply scheme is very complex, which means that residents of one part of the city will receive water which is different in its proportion of dam and bore water to that received by residents in another part of the city.

The city is made up of a number of distribution zones. Over an extended period of time, each of these zones will receive a relatively consistent mixture of dam and bore water. However, not only will the mixture vary from zone to zone, it will also vary from day to day, depending on the number of bores that are in use at the time, and maintenance works that might require us to temporarily change the source of water for a particular area. It will also vary from property to property within the zone, depending on its proximity to bores, reservoirs and trunk water mains. Because of these variations, it is not possible to accurately predict the mix of surface water and bore water received by any particular property.

How much fluoride is in my water?

The actual concentration of fluoride in the drinking water at any point is directly proportional to the percentage of dam water supplied to that point. An area that receives 100% dam water will receive, on average, 100% of the regulated fluoride dose, which is 0.8 mg/L. On average, areas that receive a lower proportion of dam water will receive a proportionally lower fluoride concentration.

Queensland Department of Health dental experts have advised that while 0.8 mg/L is considered to be the optimum drinking water fluoride concentration for our region, doses of 0.4mg/L or greater will have a beneficial effect.

 

Customer service standards - water and wastewater services

We are committed to providing our residential and business customers with a permanent and reliable water supply. We strive to:

  • Supply drinking water that is compliant with Public Health Regulation  2005, (Part6)
  • Supply adequate pressure at the property connection of between 22m and 80m head.
  • Operate the water supply systems to limit the total number of water quality complaints.

Day-to-day continuity of water supply

To maintain continuous high-quality water supply services to our customers we endeavour to:

  • Maintain supply of water to customers on a reliable and permanent basis
  • Respond to water main and water service incidents in the shortest possible time
  • Restore water services as quickly and effectively as possible
  • Provide customers with at least 48 hours’ notice of any planned interruption to service for maintenance works.

Effective transport of wastewater

Toowoomba Regional Council is committed to providing all our connected customers with a reliable, safe sewerage collection and environmentally compliant disposal service. To maintain this service and protect the environment we will endeavour to operate and maintain the sewerage collection system to:

  • Limit the total number of overflows
  • Minimise the number of events that result in odour
  • Respond to incidents in the shortest possible time.

The following processes are in place so that customers understand their rights and obligations and how to interact with Toowoomba Regional Council:

  • General enquiries

Requests for information about interruptions to water service, water quality, dam levels and other related water service enquiries can be made by either phoning (Ph. 131 872) or visiting your local service centre. 

In most instances, the customer service officer will be able to assist you or they will transfer you to a section officer who can.

  • Service connections

Applications for new or restoration of disconnected water services can be made in person at Toowoomba Regional Council Service Centres. Charges for standard domestic water service installation or reconnection are listed in Council’s current fees and charges. A minimum of 10 working days for installation or reconnection of standard domestic water services is standard.

Applications for a new sewer connection stub in to an existing sewer can be made in person at Council Service Centres. Charges for standard installation, after a licensed plumber has excavated the existing sewer, are listed in Council’s current fees and charges.

  • Billing

Billing for water use is based on the readings taken half yearly. The tariff system and charges may vary dependent on the service area. Refer to the relevant Customer Service Centre for details. Rate notices provide a breakdown of the sewerage charges and water access charges.

  • Metering

All water connections are metered. If you believe that a meter is inaccurate, a water meter test can be arranged. A fee will apply for meter testing dependent on the diameter of the meter. This fee is set out in Council’s current fees and charges.

  • Accounting

Council offers a variety of ways for you to pay your bills; you can make payments to TRC at any of its Service Centres. 

  • Customer consultation

Information is issued with rates notices of any issues relating to water supply and sewerage services. Additionally, Council’s activities and service information is communicated through the local media, newsletters, brochures, direct main leaflets and Council’s website.

Customers will be given at least two working days’ notice of any planned interruption to service for maintenance works.

  • Complaints

Complaints referring to services can be presented in a written or oral form. Wherever possible we will endeavour to resolve your complaint immediately. TRC will endeavour to find a solution that satisfies both complainant and the Council, giving the reasons that the decision was based upon and ensuring a fair and equitable process of review.

  • Dispute resolution

If a complainant is not satisfied with Council’s response to a complaint, an internal review, to be conducted by a senior Council officer, may be requested. If it is not possible for Council to resolve a complaint, complainant’s can approach an outside agency to seek resolution.

For more information, contact any of our service centres.

Service targets

A summary of the Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) Customer Service Standard with Key Performance Indicators for customer service and their respective targets set for each supply scheme can be found in the Appendix below. These performance indicators will be used to measure our performance each year and will be publicly reported against annually and reviewed on a regular basis.

Key Performance Indicators for reporting*

  1. Supply water that is compliant with Qld Public Health Regulation 2005, (Part 6)
  2. Total number of water main breaks & leaks per 100km of water main
  3. Number of sewer main breaks & chokes per 100km of sewage main
  4. Incidence of unplanned interruptions per 1000 connections
  5. Average Response time to water main and service incidents (bursts and leaks)
  6. Average Response time to sewage incidents (chokes and overflows)
  7. Number of drinking water quality complaints per 1000 connections
  8. Number of odour complaints per 1000 connections
  9. Total number of water and sewerage complaints

*Where schemes have smaller attributes (e.g. less than 1000 connections, or mains length less than 100km), targets will be set as incidents per year specific to individual schemes.

Service targets across all Toowoomba Regional Council Water and Wastewater Services


Key Performance Indicator 1

Description: Supply water that is compliant with Qld Public Health Regulation 2005, (Part 6)

Target (incidents per annum): Compliance


Key Performance Indicator 5

Description: Average response time to water main and service incidents (bursts and leaks)

Target (incidents per annum): 95% within 4 hours


Key Performance Indicator 6

Description: Average response time to sewage incidents (chokes and overflows)

Target (incidents per annum): 90% within 2 hours


Key Performance Indicator 9

Description: Total number of water and sewerage complaints

Target (incidents per annum): 500 incidents for the region

 

Service targets by area

Cambooya Services

For connected properties serviced by the Cambooya Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10

Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 90

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 2

Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

 

Cecil Plains Services

For connected properties serviced by the Cecil Plains Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10

Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 75

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 2

Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 3

 

Clifton Services

For connected properties serviced by the Clifton Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10

Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 75

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 7

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

 

Crows Nest Services

For connected properties serviced by the Crows Nest Wastewater Scheme the following targets apply: (refer to Toowoomba Bulk for water supply targets)

Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 90

Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

 

Greenmount Services

For connected properties serviced by the Greenmount Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:


Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 2

 

Haden Services

For connected properties serviced by the Haden Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 3

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 1

 

Hodgson Vale Services

For connected properties serviced by the Hodgson Vale Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:


Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 20

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 7

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10

 

Millmerran Services

For connected properties serviced by the Millmerran Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 20

Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 75

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 7

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints per 1000 connections

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints per 1000 connections

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

 

Nobby Services

For connected properties serviced by the Nobby Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 2

 

Pittsworth Services

For connected properties serviced by the Pittsworth Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 20

Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 90

Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 7

Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints per 1000 connections

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

 

Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply and Wastewater Service

For connected properties serviced by the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply and Wetalla Sewerage Scheme (Toowoomba expanded) the following targets apply:


Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 25


Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 90


Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 7


Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5


Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 2

 

Yarraman Services

For connected properties serviced by the Yarraman Water Supply and Wastewater Scheme the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10


Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 75


Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 7


Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5


Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

 

Vale View Services

For connected properties serviced by the Vale View Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:


Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10


Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5


Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 1

 

Wyreema Services

For connected properties serviced by the Wyreema Water Supply and Wastewater Schemes the following targets apply:

Key Performance Indicator 2

Description: Total number of water main breaks & leaks

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 10


Key Performance Indicator 3

Description: Number of sewer main breaks & chokes

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 75


Key Performance Indicator 4

Description: Incidence of unplanned interruptions

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 7


Key Performance Indicator 7

Description: Number of drinking water quality complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 3


Key Performance Indicator 8

Description: Number of odour complaints

Target (incidents per annum): No more than 5

 

Related document

TRC Customer Service Standards 2014 - Water and Wastewater Services

Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 September 2019 15:10
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