The NSW opposition has called on the state government to give a commitment that its budget cuts to the NSW Office of Water will not jeopardise its ability to support local councils monitoring blue-green algae outbreaks – as the far north coast reports the first ‘red alert’ of the season.
The first declaration of a ‘red alert’ of the season has occurred at Tweed’s Bray Park Weir, which provides most of the drinking water to the shire’s 88,000 residents.
‘The O’Farrell government has slashed budgets in all departments and agencies and the NSW Office of Water has been hit too,’ NSW shadow minister for water, Mr Walt Secord, said.
‘In fact, the cuts have hit rural, regional and coastal areas the hardest.’
In early June, the Office of Water announced that it would cut 50 jobs. The Public Service Association of NSW said the staff include scientists, planners and policy experts. Those 50 jobs followed 17 voluntary redundancies in March.
Blue-green algae has the potential to affect drinking water supplies, and ingesting the contaminated water can lead to diarrhoea, skin rashes and eye and ear irritations. They can also affect pets and livestock.
Tweed Shire Council has been running the Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) dosing system at the Water Treatment Plant for around one week to ensure the safety of the town water supply.