Residents of Tweed Shire are being advised not to drink their tap water if it tastes salty or use water outside after salt water contaminated the Bray Park Weir overnight.
The Tweed Shire Council has imposed immediate water restrictions as a precautionary measure and is contacting the North Coast Public Health unit to advise of the situation.
The council has asked residents not to use water outside on gardens or for washing cars until the issue is sorted out.
Manager Water and Wastewater Anthony Burnham said at this stage, indoor water use and commercial operations were not restricted.
‘Residents should also be alert not to use the water on salt-sensitive plants, such as avocadoes, or in fresh-water fish tanks,’ he said.
The restrictions are likely to be in force for 24 hours to two days as the council works to rid the weir of the salty water.
Tests done this morning by the council’s Tweed Water Laboratory confirmed total dissolved solids of 620mg/litre at the weir.
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines rule <600mg/litre as being of ‘good’ quality; 600-900mg/litre as being of ‘fair quality; and, >1200mg/litre as being of ‘unacceptable’ quality.
‘We know that Murwillumbah water is most affected but ask all shire residents to restrict water use at this stage,’ Mr Burnham said.
‘Alarms at the Bray Park Water Treatment Plant alerted us to the issue about 8 o’clock this morning. While we will investigate the cause further, at this stage I understand the salt water ingress resulted from a higher than predicted tide. Council’s normal operating procedures are to place sandbags on the weir wall to raise the height of the wall in these events.
‘As well, the natural flow of the Tweed River normally works against the tide to keep salt water out of the weir but current river flows are low.’
Residents are advised not to drink their tap water if it tastes salty but instead use bottled water.
The council said it would provide an update on the situation about noon today.
The drinking water for Uki and Tyalgum is not affected.