2014/18 + 2021 – Hughenden (Queensland) – E.coli, Lead, Antimony, Iron, Sodium, Strontium, Colour, Taste + Odour

2016 Nov: Hughenden (Queensland) – E.coli
Incident Description: The non-compliance was a detection of E.coli from a routine sample taken on the 23/11/2016 at an outside tap located on the Western side of the Helicopter pad. 7.5 mpn
E.coli organisms were detected, with a disinfection level of 0mg/L.
Corrective and Preventative Actions: The non-compliance was reported to the regulators, Qld Health and the DON. The Reservoir was dosed again and follow samples were taken. Dosing in Hughenden was increased to 3 times a week. The Hospital now has their own disinfection system to ensure they maintain chlorine residuals in excess of 0.5mg/L
Flinders Regional Council Drinking Water Quality Management Plan 2016/17

“Coliforms are Gram-negative, non-spore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria that are capable of aerobic and facultative anaerobic growth in the presence of bile salts or other surface active agents with similar growth-inhibiting properties. They are found in large numbers in the faeces of humans and other warm-blooded animals, but many species also occur in the environment.

Thermotolerant coliforms are a sub-group of coliforms that are able to grow at 44.5 ± 0.2°C. E. coli is the most common thermotolerant coliform present in faeces and is regarded as the most specific indicator of recent faecal contamination because generally it is not capable of growth in the environment. In contrast, some other thermotolerant coliforms (including strains of Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Enterobacter) are able to grow in the environment and their presence is not necessarily related to faecal contamination. While tests for thermotolerant coliforms can be simpler than for E. coli, E. coli is considered a superior indicator for detecting faecal contamination…” ADWG

2014/16: Hughenden (Queensland) – Lead
2014/15: Hughenden (Queensland) Reticulation – Lead 0.012mg/L(max), 0.0009 (mean)
2015/16: Hughenden (Queensland) Reticulation – Lead 0.01mg/L(max), 0.0009 (mean)
2014/15: Hughenden Incident Incident Description: A reading of 0.012mg/L was detected.
Corrective and Preventative Actions: The tap and the reticulation mains were flushed. Further
samples were taken. Other samples taken from different points in the reticulation were compared against the samples form the WTP. The other samples taken on the same day and the additional samples taken from the WTP reported below the Health limit. Council now regularly flushes the water mains in order to assist in the movement of sediment in the mains. Regularly testing of the reticulation network occurs.
Flinders Shire Drinking Water Quality Management Plan 2014/15 + 2015/16

Lead Australian Drinking Water Guideline 0.01mg/L

“… Lead can be present in drinking water as a result of dissolution from natural sources, or from household plumbing systems containing lead. These may include lead in pipes, or in solder used to seal joints. The amount of lead dissolved will depend on a number of factors including pH, water hardness and the standing time of the water.

Lead is the most common of the heavy metals and is mined widely throughout the world. It is used in the production of lead acid batteries, solder, alloys, cable sheathing, paint pigments, rust inhibitors, ammunition, glazes and plastic stabilisers. The organo-lead compounds tetramethyl and tetraethyl lead are used extensively as anti-knock and lubricating compounds in gasoline…ADWG 2011

2016/17 – Hughenden (Queensland) – Antimony

2016/17: Hughenden (Queensland) – Antimony 0.086mg/L “(Bore 2 returned a reading of 0.0086 mg/L. All remaining bores and reticulation samples returned readings of <0.0001mg/L. After discussing exceedance with Council’s designated regulator contact it was determined that the exceedance was not reportable as it had diluted before it reached the reticulation).” Flinders Shire Council Drinking Water Quality Management Plan 2016/17.

Antimony: ADWG Guideline 0.003mg/L. Antimony shows similar toxic effects as arsenic. Can be a problem with antimony-tin solder.

Hughenden (Queensland) – Iron

2016/17: Hughenden (Queensland)  – Iron 5.6mg/L

Based on aesthetic considerations (precipitation of iron from solution and taste),
the concentration of iron in drinking water should not exceed 0.3 mg/L.
No health-based guideline value has been set for iron.

Iron has a taste threshold of about 0.3 mg/L in water, and becomes objectionable above 3 mg/L. High iron concentrations give water an undesirable rust-brown appearance and can cause staining of laundry and plumbing fittings, fouling of ion-exchange softeners, and blockages in irrigation systems. Growths of iron bacteria, which concentrate iron, may cause taste and odour problems and lead to pipe restrictions, blockages and corrosion. ADWG 2011

Hughenden (Queensland) – Sodium

2016/17: Hughenden (Queensland) Sodium 230mg/L (max), 210.87av.

2016/17: Hughenden (Queensland) Sodium 240mg/L (max), 194.31av.

“Based on aesthetic considerations (taste), the concentration of sodium in drinking water
should not exceed 180 mg/L….The sodium ion is widespread in water due to the high solubility of sodium salts and the abundance of mineral deposits. Near coastal areas, windborne sea spray can make an important contribution either by fallout onto land surfaces where it can drain to drinking water sources, or from washout by rain. Apart from saline intrusion and natural contamination, water treatment chemicals, domestic water softeners and
sewage effluent can contribute to the sodium content of drinking water.” ADWG 2011

Hughenden (Queensland) – Strontium

2017/18: Hughenden raw water (Queensland) Strontium 0.12mg/L (max), 0.100533mg/L (av.)

2017/18: Hughenden reticulation (Queensland) Strontium 0.24mg/L (max), 118478mg/L (av.)

Cobalt, Strontium and Thallium and Vanadium were detected at Torrens Creek while Strontium was detected at Prairie and Hughenden.The detection of these parameters was discussed with Qld Health who have provided Council with advice and guideline values for these parameters. The general advice was that detections of Strontium and Cobalt need not be reported and that a Guideline value for Thallium is provided by the USEPA (0.0005 mg/L). The guideline value for Vanadium is based on the Californian EPA’s value of 0.015mg/L.

Hughenden community subject to ‘unpleasant’ tap water since early December demands answers


Residents of a north-west Queensland town say they have been burdened by discoloured, foul-smelling water for more than a month, with many resorting to buying and filtering water each day.

Some have experienced brown drinking water, while others have reported strong chlorine.

The Flinders Shire Council has assured Hughenden residents that the supply had not been over-chlorinated and the water was “not harmful to health”.

It blamed increased chlorination, granular chlorine, broken pipes, and bugs for the discolouration and foul smell.

During a meeting in December, Queensland Health recommended that the Flinders Shire Council increase chlorine levels to reach Australian Drinking Standard Guidelines.

It was recommended to increase levels to the standard 0.2 milligrams per litre and reduce levels of algae in town water.

That target has still not been reached, but the town has been stuck with discoloured and smelly water ever since.

Water ‘not pleasant’, but ‘not harmful’: mayor

Flinders Shire CEO Daryl Buckingham told the ABC the chlorine level was yet to reach the recommended 0.2 milligram per litre.

He did not say what the chlorine level was currently sitting at.

Mayor Jane McNamara said council staff were working to flush the water in affected areas.

“Businesses that really rely on clean water they’re being made a priority because that’s affecting their business, and food outlets,” she said.

A Hughenden resident who wished to remain anonymous said locals were wary to complain.

“We live in a small community,” the resident said.

Cr McNamara cautioned residents against making complaints on social media as council staff could not respond.

Instead, residents needed to make an official complaint.