Voluntary water restrictions on outdoor uses for Tweed town water have been lifted after Tweed Shire Council said it had ‘largely dealt with’ the effects of salt water entering Bray Park Weir last week.
But the salty taste in the water will remain for a while yet, and in fact is affecting more people, the council has admitted.
Tweed’s water and wastewater manager Anthony Burnham said dredging at the weir, changing how water was drawn from the weir and scouring mains pipes had produced town water supplies with lower salt content over the weekend.
The improved water quality means the council was able to refill reservoirs throughout Tweed Shire but the ongoing presence of elevated salt levels in the mains means the salty taste is now affecting more consumers than last week.
Immediate water restrictions were put in place in Tweed Shire on August 22 after a combination of climatic conditions caused salt water in Tweed River to surge over the weir wall: a run of higher-than-expected tides up to 420mm above predicted levels, higher salinity levels offshore and warmer ocean temperatures.
Mr Burnham thanked the community for minimising water use while the council worked to bring salt levels down.
‘The community response bought us time to drain the worst affected parts of the system before demand for water forced us to release water with higher than normal salt levels into the system,’ he said.
‘Ninety megalitres of water has been released from Clarrie Hall Dam each day to top up the good supplies, while dredging works drew the heavier salty water from the depths of the weir pool and discharged it back downstream.
‘Salt levels again marginally improved at Bray Park Weir during the weekend as a result.’
Mr Burnham emphasised the water has remained safe to drink in line with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
He said the water is also suitable for outdoor use, such as washing cars but some care should be taken when watering salt-intolerant plants or for use in freshwater fish tanks.
‘Dredging is ongoing and we are continuing to release water from Clarrie Hall Dam. We expect water quality in the weir will continue to improve during the next three to five days,’ he said.
The Uki and Tyalgum villages have a separate water treatment system and are not affected.