The taste and character of any brew - including your morning cuppa – will vary depending on the minerals and chemicals found in your local water, and good water plays a crucial part in the happiness index of any community.
Today, Mackay residents can kick back and enjoy their cuppa knowing that their water is the tastiest in all of Queensland.
Water from Mackay Regional Council’s Marian Water Treatment Plant was selected top drop in the 2019 Ixom Best of the Best Queensland Water Taste Test held at the Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater) Annual Forum in Logan on Wednesday, 11 September, claiming the title for the second year in a row.
Around 60 forum delegates put their senses to the test, judging entries from around Queensland by colour, odour and taste.
Mackay Regional Council Manager Water and Sewerage Planning, Sarah Lethbridge, was pleased to accept the trophy on behalf of the Mackay water team.
“This award is a testament to the treatment team and the good work they do in providing top quality drinking water to our communities,” Ms Lethbridge said.
“The source of water is the headwaters of the Pioneer River which originates in the tropical rainforests of the Eungella National Park and the Crediton State Forest. It is treated at the Marian Water Treatment Plant which provides water to more than 6,000 Marian and Mirani residents. The plant uses clarification, filtration and chlorine disinfection processes to treat the water to meet the Australian Drinking Water Quality guidelines.”
Runners up, again for the second year in a row, were Livingstone Regional Council, whose winning water from the 2017 competition had been immortalised in a very tasty limited edition craft beer – Livingstone Lager with a tropical twist of Pineapple.
The other entries were from Toowoomba Regional Council, Veolia Aus NZ (Tugun Desalination Plant), Fraser Coast Regional Council, Bundaberg Regional Council and Logan City Council.
Other than bragging rights, qldwater CEO Dave Cameron said the winners and runners up received a trophy featuring a mounted piece of copper pipe from Thargomindah in the south-west of the state, where town water drawn from a Great Artesian Basin bore comes out of the ground at 72 degrees Celsius and the water is cooled through evaporative cooling towers and the copper pipes submerged in ponds before reticulation.
“The water is aggressive, so the pipes are currently being replaced due to significant corrosion,” Mr Cameron said.
“We are hoping that the winners and runners up of this year’s competition will appreciate this collectors’ item from the West which well demonstrates the diversity and challenges of the state’s drinking water systems.”
While the Queensland competition had been running for several years, it has now grown to become a coveted international competition with the Water Industry Operators Association (WIOA) introducing it in NSW, ACT, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand.
The competition also includes the annual Water of Origin, where the winning samples from Queensland and NSW battle it out at the WIOA QLD Conference each year.
Toowoomba Regional Council made it all the way to the International Water Tasting Competition in Berkeley Springs, USA in 2018, first taking out the 2016 Queensland title, then the 2017 Water of Origin against NSW before finally claiming the Ixom Best Tap Water in Australia competition in 2017 and representing Australia at the world event.
“The taste test is about more than just how good the water tastes: it is a way to help inform the community about how much effort goes into providing quality drinking water – an essential, sustainable service provided 24/7 by the staff of our local water utilities,” Mr Cameron said.
The taste test forms part of the qldwater Annual Forum on 11 and 12 September that brings together water and sewerage service providers, other industry representatives and government departments to look at ways of dealing with future urban water challenges in a constrained funding environment.
Day one of the forum includes a technical tour of Logan Water Alliance infrastructure before returning to the Sports Centre for a range of local presentations and the annual Vendor Pitch challenge, with proceeds going to support scholarships for representatives from small and remote councils to attend these forums.
ABOUT THE QUEENSLAND WATER INDUSTRY AND PREVIOUS WINNERS
There are over 70 drinking water service providers in Queensland and over 370 community water supplies.
Queensland has more people living in outer regional areas than any other state in Australia, and most of this dispersed population rely on local government to provide water and sewerage services.
Not surprisingly, many of the communities served are small. In fact two thirds of the potable supplies are for towns with fewer than 1,000 residents. Half service fewer than 500 people.
Previous Queensland taste test winners include:
2018: Mackay Regional Council
Source: Pioneer River. Undergoes conventional treatment before being distributed to households and businesses in Mackay and Sarina.
2017: Livingstone Shire Council
Source: A pristine dunal water system at Waterpark Creek. Treated at Woodbury Water Treatment Plant using a conventional water treatment process.
2016: Toowoomba Regional Council
Source: A blend of three dams - Lake Cooby, Lake Cressbrook and Lake Perseverance. Treated at Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant using conventional treatment before it is distributed to the community.
2015: Barcaldine Regional Council
Source: The Great Artesian Basin. Supplied by two bores at a temperature of about 47°C, no treatment is needed to comply with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. As an open-ended system, water runs into two storage reservoirs which overflow into Lagoon Creek.
2014: Richmond Shire Council
Source: Water from a pilot plant commissioned after years of complaints from residents about odour and staining from iron and manganese in the water. Council secured funding from the State Government to install a first-class water treatment plant. This sample continued its winning streak to take out the 2015 Water of Origin against NSW.
2013: Cook Shire Council
Source: The Annan River in the wet tropics of northern Queensland. Treated with alum, soda ash and polymer before going to a sedimentation tank and through sand filters. They inject lime and CO2 to make the water less corrosive and to correct the PH, then chlorine is added to disinfect the water.
2012: Burdekin Shire Council
Source: Burdekin promotes itself as being built on liquid gold, with an underground aquifer that contains over 20 million megalitres of water (about 40 times the amount of water in the Sydney Harbour). Water is pumped from the aquifer to treatment facilities where the water is both aerated and chlorinated before being supplied under pressure to the distribution network for consumption.
2011: Barcoo Shire Council
Source: A blend of Great Artesian Basin and surface water. Blending surface and bore water is a practical way to extend the meagre water supplies of some western towns. The inaugural water taste test winner uses reverse osmosis to treat the water.
qldwater is the key advisory and advocacy body within Queensland’s urban water industry and represents members from Local Government and other water service providers across Queensland.
qldwater aims to assist its members to maintain and improve the safety, health, wellbeing and sustainability of Queensland’s communities and provides independent advice and representation in the areas of water legislation and policy development as well as technical operational support.
qldwater is a business unit of IPWEAQ and an initiative of Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), Australian Water Association (AWA) and the Local Government Managers Association (LGMA).