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Joint approach to tackle water quality issue

Wednesday 24 January 2024

AlburyCity and NSW Health have joined forces to address a water quality issue in the city’s drinking water supply.

The Council is aware of dirty water appearing in some households that is causing concern among residents.

Service Leader Water and Wastewater, Brad Willis, said the issue was being caused by the naturally occurring element manganese, a legacy of bushfire residue from the Lake Hume catchment.

“We know that the water released from the bottom of Hume Dam gates has been very cold, low in oxygen and high in iron and manganese,” he said.

“This has posed some treatment difficulties and has seen some of these elements enter the city’s drinking water, causing a brown colour, poor taste and potentially staining basins and other fittings.

“Our networks team has been working to flush the affected areas, and we’ve optimised our treatment processes, but there is still a small amount getting through.”

Advice from NSW Health has confirmed that elevated iron and manganese are unlikely to pose a risk to health.

“If you experience discoloured water, please flush your tap until the water runs clear before consumption,” Mr Willis said.

“However, if the dirty water continues after five minutes or so, turn off your tap, report the issue to us, and we will flush the main.”

In response to the issue, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority has announced changes to operations at Hume Dam, with releases being made from the dam's spillway gates, valves and the power station to help improve water quality issues downstream.

“Releasing from the gates will enable quality water from the lake to mix with the water already in the river,” Mr Willis said.

“This is aimed at assisting our treatment processes with better quality source water.

“This method has been trialled in recent years to improve water quality issues with great success.”

The changed flow arrangement will not increase the total release volume from the dam and will be reviewed by stakeholders on Monday.