Wide Bay Water strives to provide up to date and important information for residents of the Fraser Coast. For more information, click on the headings below.
Get to know H2O in your own backyard!
Below are a number of fact sheets about water and water treatment on the Fraser Coast.
A handy resource for teachers and students!
- Burgowan Water Treatment Plant (PDF,303kB)
- Catchment care (PDF,1.6MB)
- Fraser Coast Water Storages History (PDF,491kB)
- Future of treatment (PDF,209kB)
- HACCP - Keeping water safe (PDF,817kB)
- Hervey Bay water cycle (PDF,2.1MB)
- Hervey Bay water storages (PDF,2.3MB)
- Maryborough Water Cycle (PDF,910kB)
- Maryborough water storages (PDF,2.2MB)
- Properties of water (PDF,513kB)
- Recycled water (PDF,1.8MB)
- Treatment principles (PDF,205kB)
- Water audit for your household (PDF,81kB)
- Water leaks DL Flyer(PDF,640kB)
- Water leaks DL Brochure(PDF,2MB)
- WetSide Water Park (PDF,160kB)
Basic Chemistry Terms and Tests
This is a scale of numbers from 0 to 14 which describes the amount of hydrogen ions dissolved in a water or chemical solution.
pH = -Log10 [H+]
The negative log to the base 10 of the hydrogen ion concentration.
Acids have a very low pH as they have a high concentration of free hydrogen ions. These are liquids like battery acid or nitric acid that is sometimes used in metal cleaning products.
Alkaline liquids like ammonia-based bleaches or peroxide solutions have a very high pH.
Both acids and alkaline solutions can cause severe burns, which is why they are normally recommended to be handled using gloves and solutions available to the public are much less concentrated that those used in the lab.
Water supplied from our taps or in creeks and streams is usually in the neutral range – that is 6.5 – 8.5 pH.
Conductivity describes the capacity of a liquid or solid to conduct an electronic current. Conductivity is measured in Siemens per centimetre (S/cm). Reticulated water in Hervey Bay has an average conductivity of 230 micro Siemens per centimetre (µS/cm) – very low conductivity.
In waters, a high conductivity indicates a large amount of dissolved material – sea water has a very high conductivity. A low conductivity indicates the water is quite pure with very little dissolved material.
Hardness is a test used to determine the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium sulphates that may be dissolved in the liquid. These ions can cause scaling of pipe work and can contribute to some taste issues in relation to drinking water supplies.
The term 'hard water' indicates levels greater than 200 mg/L and these waters do not lather very easily. The lab is often asked about the hardness of our tap water supply by people wanting to install dishwashers as they may need to add water softening agents to prevent damage to these machines.
The water supply for Hervey Bay is very soft (low hardness) and therefore softeners are not required.
Water that is too low in these ions is considered to be potentially corrosive to plumbing systems. Levels less than 50 – 60 mg/L are deemed potentially corrosive.
This test enables drinking water providers like Wide Bay Water to control the amount of the potentially dangerous chemical 'chlorine' that has to be added to our treated drinking water to ensure it is free of dangerous bacteria.
The National Health and Medical Research Council states that Free Chlorine levels less than 5 mg/L are safe for consumers.
Wide Bay Water tries to ensure Free Chlorine levels are kept less than about 2 mg/L but sometimes this is not always possible. If there is a large rainfall event the dam gets very churned up and it is much harder to remove all the suspended material that may harbour bacteria.
One of the most difficult aspects of this component of our water supply is that people react very differently to these breakdown products of chlorine. Some people are 'super sensitive' and can strongly detect extremely low levels that other people would not notice at all. Some may even suffer severe allergic reactions which makes it very difficult for providers to ensure disinfection of the water supply and keep consumers happy at the same time.
True colour and turbidity
These tests are very commonly used to describe a water sample and are very self-explanatory. If the drinking water was discoloured or cloudy it would not be considered as very good quality. There are tests and instruments that can be used to assign values to these very subjective terms and Wide Bay Water uses these to regulate treatment systems.
There are very many metals and metal compounds that exist in any water sample. Most of them are dissolved from rocks in the environment by rain and end up in our water supplies.
Most dissolved metals are present in such low levels as to be virtually undetectable even using the most sophisticated instruments.
The major metals Wide Bay Water monitors are iron, manganese, copper and zinc.
Iron and manganese are present in significant amounts in the environment and are not hazardous to health but may contribute to problems within the distribution system. Iron is the major component of rust which is basically iron oxide.
Iron and manganese
Most of the environmental iron and manganese are removed during the treatment process but trace amounts (less than 0.3 mg/L) may enter the distribution system. Over time, these trace amounts can build up in microscopic dead flow parts of a pipe system until they reach a mass or size where they are dislodged and appear in our water as very small, hard black or brown particles. These particles will sink to the bottom in a glass of water.
Many people using bore water will have noticed brown stains appearing on brickwork or concrete that has been regularly washed with bore water. Most bore waters contain quite high levels of dissolved iron and manganese but when the water comes into contact with bricks or cement that are basically alkaline materials, the pH of the water is changed and these metals can no longer stay dissolved but solidify out of solution and cause this staining.
Copper and zinc
Copper and a small amount of zinc are used in the plumbing of a household and in valves within the system. Monitoring levels of these metals can help us to identify potential problem areas where valves may need replacement. A customer may notice a blue or greenish residue in the bath or basin from copper being dissolved into the water.
The occurrence of these residues is generally as a result of the breakdown of the copper pipes within a hot water system. The high pressure and heat within a hot water system will accelerate the breakdown of low-quality pipe work and generally the system will need to be replaced.
Aluminium gets some very bad press as it is reported to be linked with Alzheimer’s Disease. The guidelines indicate levels less than 0.2 mg/L to be safe for drinking water.
A compound called Alum which contains aluminium is used in the treatment plant to remove the very fine dirt and leaf particles from the raw water that comes from the dam, so it is not surprising that trace amounts may be found in our drinking water.
The lab routinely monitors Hervey Bay’s drinking water for aluminium and it is kept at levels less than 0.1 mg/L.
In Hervey Bay, we have no such industrial sources of lead and there is no detectable level of lead in our environmental water supplies.
Where there is a concern at the potential for lead poisoning, a doctor should order a blood test to confirm the presence of lead and an investigation conducted into possible sources within the person’s environment.
Any liquid open to the air will contain a proportion of dissolved gaseous oxygen as well as the oxygen associated with the water molecule. This oxygen is used by fish and other water organisms.
Where this oxygen level is low, water can become stagnant and cause fish deaths.
Algae can contribute to the levels of dissolved oxygen as they process light and CO2 to produce oxygen. Often ponds that are high in algae will be super saturated with dissolved oxygen.
Dissolved Oxygen (DO) is used as an indicator to shown the general health of water body or as one of the requirements of EPA licence to discharge effluent water into the environment.
Ocean of fun reuse tree
Did you know?
Wide Bay Water grows 500,000 native trees on the outskirts of Hervey Bay to help reuse our city’s wastewater.
This reuse project has protected the Great Sandy Strait for 20 years by minimising potentially harmful discharges.
The native trees are drip irrigated with recycled wastewater. In total, there is 1,245kms of drip tube on all Wide Bay Water plantations. That’s the same length as driving from Brisbane to Melbourne, one way!
Using recycled wastewater for irrigation reduces the need to discharge into the Great Sandy Strait.
Recycled wastewater contains nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorus – similar to what is found in fertilisers. When discharged into marine environments, this wastewater can cause damage to the plants and sea-life.
Some of the trees that have been planted belong to the eucalypt family and are; forest red gum, grey ironbark, spotted gum, grey box, grey gum, flooded gum, Gympie messmate and a hybrid clone of the forest red gum and swamp mahogany.
The selected trees really like recycled wastewater. They grow almost twice as fast as trees grown with no irrigation.
The reuse trees also provide a home for native wildlife including koalas and birds.
Wide Bay Water's water reuse program enables up to 100% of Hervey Bay’s treated sewage effluent to be reused by golf courses, turf farms, cane farms and tree plantations.
Prior to the program, Hervey Bay’s treated water was discharged into the pristine waters of the Great Sandy Strait where its high nutrient content had the potential to cause damage to the marine environment.
During the early 1990s, Wide Bay Water designed a recycling program as a solution to this problem. The program supplies water at low-cost to the area’s farmers and any surplus is used to water hardwood tree plantations. As drought-hardy natives, the trees make an ideal crop because irrigation can cease without causing damage if demand is high from cane farmers or other third-party users.
In addition, eucalypt trees were chosen for the project because they:
- are excellent plants for recycling nutrients and wastewater.
- provide future income from timber.
- re-vegetate cleared land.
- give wildlife a habitat (as opposed to pine plantations which support little or no native wildlife).
- improve the local catchments.
- lead to greater knowledge about total water management.
The tree varieties planted are forest red gum, grey ironbark, spotted gum, grey box, grey gum, Gympie messmate and a hybrid clone of the forest red gum and swamp mahogany. They are planted according to where the most suitable soil conditions are for each variety. To date, the trees are growing at much faster rates than occurs under natural conditions.
The water reuse program also stretches to the Hervey Bay Airport Industrial Estate where businesses can access recycled water for their landscaping.
Would you like to use recycled water? Click here for more information.
Raw water from the Burrum raw water system enters the treatment plant and undergoes a raw water test.
The pH of the raw water is increased using hydrated lime dosing.
The water is treated with aluminium sulphate to promote coagulation and flocculation, then polymer dosing is employed to induce better solids separation in the reactivator clarifiers.
Settled water from the clarifiers is pH corrected using hydrated lime and an oxidising agent is used to convert soluble manganese to its insoluble form.
The settled water is then filtered, pH corrected and then disinfected. The final product is held in large storage reservoirs ready for distribution to customers.
The sludge from the clarifiers and backwash water from the filters is treated with a polymer to improve separation. Then the sludge is thickened and dewatered using a belt filter press.
Filtrate from the belt filter press is returned to the backwash balance tank. Dewatered sludge from the belt filter press is collected and disposed of to landfill.
Supernatant from sludge thickening is discharged to the supernatant lagoon.
From there it is returned to the head of the plant for reprocessing with incoming raw water.
Water exists in gaseous, liquid and solid states and is in constant movement around our planet. It can move through the air as vapour, clouds, rain or snow. It flows through oceans and rivers as liquid water. And can move as snow, hail or even as a glacier when it is in its solid form – ice.
The constant movement is driven by the sun which heats the water, causing it to evaporate. On a global scale, most of this evaporation occurs on a massive scale from our oceans. The evaporated water rises into the sky and when it encounters cooler temperatures it condenses, usually to form clouds. When it falls back to Earth it is called precipitation and this can take the form of rain, hail or snow. The precipitation brings water to land areas, feeds lakes and rivers and underground aquifers, and flows back into our oceans where the cycle begins once more. Click for global cycle.
It is estimated that in a 100-year period, a water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about two weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere!
Click here to download the Water Cycle diagram for Hervey Bay.
In conjunction with the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management Wide Bay Water offers the following water wise information downloads.
WaterWise in the home
- Being water wise in the bathroom, laundry and kitchen (PDF,326kB)
- Home water wise tips and quiz (PDF,244kB)
- Home water wise quiz (PDF,264kB)
- How to be water wise (PDF,362kB)
- Shorter showers reminder - door hanger (PDF,1.1MB)
WaterWise in the garden
- Being water wise with your swimming pool and spa (PDF,151kB)
- Maintaining your lawn (PDF,150kB)
- Mulch and your garden (PDF,400kB)
- Watering your garden (PDF,350kB)
- Waterwise gardens (PDF,864kB)
WaterWise in the accommodation industry
- Being water wise in the luxury accommodation industry (PDF,930kB)
- Waterwise tips for guests (PDF,166kB)
WaterWise in the workplace