eFlash #581

eFlash #581

eFlash #581
Date: 13-Oct-2023


Essentials webinar series on Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) | SWIM 2022/23 annual water and sewerage data complete | SEQ water security program released | Ergon Energy Network regulatory price paths | Updated Major and minor amendments guideline | 3G is being withdrawn | ALEC emerging contaminants workshop | Consultation on the establishment of First Nations water reserves | IChEMS consultation on short chain chlorinated paraffins 


Essentials Webinar Series

With the early onset of warm conditions in Queensland, qldwater have heard reports of cyanobacteria blooms (otherwise known as Harmful Algal Blooms or HAB) appearing in surface waters unusually early in the season, and in locations where they have historically been infrequent. 

With this in mind, we have arranged a series of Webinars focused on three aspects of HABs that are relevant to drinking water service providers. Over three weeks, we will present the following topics:

  • Climate and water outlook for the coming season: Bureau of Meteorology
  • Managing HAB through your Drinking Water Quality Management Plan: Office of the Water Supply Regulator
  • Heath aspects of HAB: Queensland Health

These webinars are all free for all to attend, and there will be plenty of time for questions.

Webinar 1: BOM climate and water outlook for the coming season

Thursday 19 October 2023, 10:00 – 10:40 am

Matthew Coulton, General Manager Agriculture and Water at the Bureau of Meteorology

We have all seen a warmer than average winter and now with both an El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) underway, their combined impact can increase the chance of below average rainfall over much of Australia and higher temperatures across the southern two-thirds of the country. Based on history, it is now also more likely that warm and dry conditions will persist over eastern Australia. Also El Niño events increase the risk of extreme temperature shifts, like heatwaves and hotter days and increase fire risks. Matt will provide a Climate and Water briefing for the coming four months.

Register here.

Webinar 2: Managing HAB through your Drinking Water Quality Management Plan

Thursday 26 October 2023, 10:00 – 11:30 am

Ted Aldred, Manager Water Supply Regulation – Water Operations and Systems, Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water

Blue green algae outbreaks in surface waters can be challenging for water service providers especially when coupled with other risks that are heightened by high temperatures. Boiling drinking water is not an effective means for removing or inactivating toxins associated with HABs. In this webinar Ted will talk about the role of the Drinking Water Quality Management Plan in managing these risks to provide safe drinking water for your community.

Register here.

Webinar 3: Health Aspects of Harmful Algal Blooms

Thursday 2 November 2023, 10:00 – 11:00 am

Dr Phil Choi, Senior Environmental Health Scientist, Queensland Public Health and Scientific Services, Queensland Health

The conditions that favour HABs include warm temperature, stratified water and calm or stagnant conditions: all circumstances that are associated with drier than usual wet seasons. If HABs do occur, they have the potential to impact drinking water supplies as well as recreational and irrigation water supplies. Queensland Health has recently updated its FAQ on HAB, and Phil will provide an overview of the health aspects of HAB. 

Register here

2. SWIM 2022/23 annual water and sewerage data complete

A communal sign of relief (and numerous popping champagne corks) was heard across the State last week as the annual KPI reporting season came to an end for 2022/23. Over the past couple of months all 72 qldwater members (as well as Weipa Town Authority and Seqwater) submitted their annual water and sewerage data via SWIM.

We thank all the staff out there that spent many hours collating, processing, collecting and entering water and sewerage data. This year every service provider reported on time and the accuracy of data has again improved with recent data checking by qldwater revealing very minimal errors in the submitted data.

All BoM, ABS and NPR data has also been submitted. This is earlier than due, and the same as last year, to give them all time to start their own validation/checking processes before their data finalisation date of October 31.

We will start preliminary work on the qldwater comparative report soon but will await finalisation of the data later in November before publication.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for SWIM and/or the qldwater comparative/benchmarking report, please contact David Scheltinga or the qldwater offices. 


3. Seqwater Water Security Program released

Seqwater has released its 2023 Water Security Program, outlining a 30 year plan to continue delivering safe and secure water supply to a population that is set to grow to more than 6 million in that time.

The Water Security Program maps out how Seqwater plans to continue to provide safe, secure water supply through maximising the use of existing assets and planning for future climate-resilient water supply options.

The strategy focuses on getting the most out of the SEQ Water Grid, through connecting Wyaralong Dam to the Grid and expanding the existing Gold Coast Desalination Plant at Tugun, which will be ramped up to full capacity to take pressure off existing supplies.

Taking projected population growth and climate change into account, Seqwater will also complete a detailed business case for a new desalination plant, currently expected to be needed by 2035.

As per existing policy, the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme will remain as an insurance policy for an extreme drought scenario where the water grid levels drop below 40%. It is already used for certain industrial purposes and will be better used for agriculture and emerging industries including hydrogen.

4. Ergon Energy Network Regulatory Price Path

Ergon Energy hosted a webinar on 28 September to outline the next regulatory price path for the Ergon Network. This includes all of regional Queensland – essentially, customers outside SEQ.

This process has significant impacts to the urban water sector by way of the tariffs that they can access and the prices that they pay for electricity. A slide deck from the webinar can be accessed here.

5. Update on Queenstown cryptosporidium outbreak

The fallout from the cryptosporidium outbreak in Queenstown continues as Taumata Arowai this week released a list of 27 councils that operate 84 drinking water supplies lacking a treatment barrier preventing protozoa such as cryptosporidium and giardia from contaminating the water.

According to the NZ Water Services Act 2021 (the Act) and the Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules (the Rules), suppliers must use a multi-barrier approach to managing risks and protect drinking water supplies from contamination.

No single barrier is effective against all sources of contamination – for example, chlorine is a highly effective treatment against bacteria and viruses but is not effective against protozoa. That is why it is critical that a multi-barrier approach is used.

In response to a request for information from all council, government, and private supplies that share the same characteristics as the Queenstown supply, 27 council suppliers across Aotearoa that should have a protozoa barrier in place, admitted that they don’t. The total population potentially affected by the 84 drinking water supplies that lack a protozoa barrier is 310,290 people.

These councils are now required to have a confirmed and funded plan for protozoa barriers agreed by 30 June next year, with barriers for surface water sources due by 31 December 2024 and or bore water sources by 31 December 2025.

6. Updated Major and minor amendments guideline

During public consultation on the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, the Department of Environment and Science committed to review the non-statutory guideline Major and minor amendments (ESR/2015/1684) to provide further rigour and certainty around assessment level decisions for environmental authority amendment processes.

The updated Major and minor amendments (ESR/2015/1684) has now been finalised and is available on the department’s website. In summary, updates to the guideline include: 

•Review of legislative references to ensure alignment with the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act).

•Revisions to the guidance about ‘significantly’ (section 4.2 in the updated version).

•Inclusion of multiple flowcharts to visually show the amendment process and timeframes for EA and progressive rehabilitation and closure plan schedule amendments.

•Inclusion of a new appendix (Appendix 2) which includes information about amendment application requirements.

•Restructure of the detailed examples (Appendix 4) to focus on the statutory definitions for minor amendments rather than industry type.

•Inclusion of other structural changes and improvements.

Please note that the guideline must be consistent with the legislation and does not alter the definition of a major or minor amendment in the EP Act.

7. 3G is being withdrawn

Telstra is making improvements to its mobile network. As part of these improvements, the 3G network will be ‘switched off’ on 30 June 2024. The 3G network closure will not be a single event but will be a phased approach which Telstra seeks to streamline into a relatively short timeframe. As part of the disconnection of the 3G service, Telstra is currently updating and transitioning the infrastructure to 4G and 5G, so to ensure continuous network services to customers.  

The Directorate met with Telstra in September to discuss the efficient and timely removal of all obsolete 3G network infrastructure and streamline the installation of new 4G and 5G infrastructure. 

It is imperative that the network infrastructure renewal does not impact any water service provider’s ability to meet their legislative obligations and statutory functions (which include public health functions) and the ability to control (including maintaining and operating) its assets.  

It is also timely to ensure that any equipment and communications using 3G is transitioned to the newer and faster 4G and 5G networks or alternative.  

More information on the 3G Network closure and what it means for equipment and mobile devices can be found in this Fact Sheet and the following links: 

  •  https://www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/support/3g-service-closure
  • https://www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/news-research/articles/iot-devices-and-closure-of-the-3g-network-in-australia
  • https://www.telstra.com.au/support/mobiles-devices/3g-closure


8. Consultation on the establishment of First Nations water reserves

The Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water has opened a public consultation on the State Government’s proposal to establish two First Nations water reserves on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).

As previously advised, the cessation of sand mining on Minjerribah has created the opportunity to transition former mining water volumes to better protect the unique environmental and cultural values of Minjerribah and provide an economic opportunity for the Quandamooka People.

For more information about the proposal please visit the Department’s website.  

Please provide feedback by 20 October 2023 through the Get Involved platform. 

9. IChEMS consultation on short chain chlorinated paraffins

On Monday, 9 October 2023, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water opened a public consultation on a proposed scheduling decision under the Industrial Chemicals Environment Management Standard (IChEMS).

The Department are proposing standards to manage short chain chlorinated paraffin (SCCP) chemicals. These chemicals are recognised internationally as Persistent Organic Pollutants with the potential to cause serious environmental harm if not managed properly. 

You can provide feedback on the proposed scheduling decisions through the Have Your Say process, which you can access using the department’s Consultation Hub. Submissions close at 5pm on Wednesday 8 November 2023.

Your feedback will help Australian governments and business to effectively manage the environmental risks of these chemicals. For further information, or to be added to the IChEMS distribution list, please contact ichems.enquiry@dcceew.gov.au.  

Other Key Dates 

  • 5 October - AWA QLD Water Awards
  • 10-12 October - IPWEA-QNT Annual Conference
  • 13 October - WIOA FNQ Operators Interest Day and Charity Bowls
  • 18 October - WBBUWA Operator Forum
  • 9-10 November - AWA QWater, Brisbane 
  • 24 November - Mackay Operator Forum

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