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Public Meeting: "The Dark Side of Water Treatments by Queensland Government"

You are invited to attend the
Public meeting at West End, Brisbane on Nov 15th

The Dark Side of Water Treatments by Queensland Government

Date:  Saturday, 15th November, 2008

Time:  2pm–5pm

Venue: Ahimsa house 26 HoranStreet, West End, Brisbane

Entry: Gold coin donation appreciated

Tea Included: Approx 3.30pm

The Issues: Recycled Water, Fluoridated Water

The Speakers:

1. Mr Snow Manners B.Econ., API (Toowoomba) (speaking at approx 2.15pm)

Snow is an economist and property valuer. He researched the issue of recycled water when it was proposed as a solution for Toowoomba. Snow coordinated the various opposition groups in Toowoomba which forced a poll and defeated the proposal. Two months after the poll he was elected to the Toowoomba City Council in a by-election and served the balance of the Council term as Chair of Strategy and Governance.

2. Dr. Andrew Harms, BDS ( speaking at approx 2.45pm )

Andrew is a dentist and Past President, Australian Dental Association, South Australia Branch. During a period of illness some years ago he changed his views drastically and is now an authority on fluoride toxicity.

3. Dr John Ryan (MB. BS. Qld)

John is a doctor, a Fellow and Former National Examiner of both Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Australian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. He has post graduate qualifications in Nutrition (M. Sc. Distinction, London), and Children’s Diseases (DCH Ireland). He was for five years a member of the Therapeutic Goods Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines in Australia. He is a founding member of Professionals Against Water Fluoridation with 1800 professional members worldwide.

4. Mrs Merilyn Haines (B.App.Sc Med Lab Tech)

Merilyn is a medical scientist who has worked in most areas of pathology. She has a keen interest in social justice and applies these values to a heavy commitment in community and environmental projects. Merilyn is Chair and Founder of Queenslanders for Safe Water, Food and Air Inc and is a strong voice for those people who feel they have been harmed and neglected in the process of water fluoridation in Queensland. Merilyn had a family member harmed by Townsville’s fluoridated water, which sparked her interest and concern at the practice.

For further information, phone: Angus: 07 3254 4596 or Jeanie 0408 006 544

Web Site: E-mail info[AT]

Water fluoridation and the use of recycled sewage effluent are two of the most important health issues ever to face the people of Queensland. Hear from Professionals who have studied these issues over many years.

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We need to tread with care when we form opinions on the likes of recycled and of fluoridated water. Everything in life carries with it an element of risk. We need to balance the risks of doing one thing against doing nothing or pursuing an alternative course of action. Queensland will not be pioneers if it adopts either recycling or fluoride treatment of its water as both have proved successful in plenty of other cases around the world.
Dental health has improved substantially where fluoride treatment has been introduced and as far as I am aware (and I am not an expert on this) there have been little or no serious ill effects recorded as a result of its introduction.

Insofar as recycled water is concerned; what are the options? More dams? Desalination? Pipelines to the north? All of these alternatives will damage the environment and cause some social disruptions and ultimately contribute to a decline in well being for many species including humans as the planet becomes less and less able to sustain the life support systems we currently enjoy.

Of course, if Queensland had opted to follow a sustainable path from the outset and taken steps to stabilize rather than expand its population as well to conserve its natural resources the water shortages would not have occurred.

Kulu is wrong at least in regard to water recycling.

The residents of Toowoomba were indeed intended to be guinea pigs in the consumption of recycled water. This was explicitly stated in a document released under FOI legislation which stated that Toowoomba residents was to be the "living laboratory". (I can't precisely date or say who snet it ot whom, but it was show in a presentation by Snow Manners at the meeting of 15 November.)

It was a "living laboratory" because, contrary to the misinformation spread by Beattie, no-one else in the world uses recycling water for drinking. Singapore makes use of some recycled water, but, by law, it must be piped into the house separately. It is not used in London, although in Essex they have water recycling facilities which are only meant to be used in extreme drought conditions.

Nevertheless I think your point, that at least one unpalatable alternative must be adopted to get us back out of the hole that the Queensland Government and their corporate masters have gotten us into until we stabilise our population, is a good one.

It seems to me that the least undesirable of all the alternatives would be simply to endure whatever water restrictions we need to to get through our water crisis. The alternatives of more dams, mining underground aquifers, desalination plants or piping water in from far away will only make our circumstances worse in the longer term.

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If people are made ill by recycled water, will they be able to sue the Queensland Government?

I think that is the acid test. If the QL government will not guarantee them compensation, then that means that the QL government doesn't really believe this is safe.

I think that Premier Bly has made a shocking decision to manipulate water storage rather than simply stop building more houses and inviting more people to Queensland. Without the government advertisements for Queensland, most people would never think of coming. And we might still have our pleasant town and bushland.

The jobs won't last and they aren't worth much anyway.
The only people making money out of this are the builders, and that won't last.

As pointed out by James Sinnamon I erred somewhat in stating that water has been recycled for drinking purposes in a number of other places. Water recycled directly for drinking has, as far as I can make out from my limited investigations, only been undertaken in Windhoek, Namibia where it has not had any known adverse health effects. Nonetheless some scientific studies have been performed on recycled water used for purposes other than drinking in an effort to determine whether they contain potentially dangerous contaminants. None of the studies I was able to dig up found any evidence of potentially harmful contaminants. Even so the scientists were unable to declare the water was safe to drink as it was impossible to test for everything. There will always be the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns - a bit like trying to guarantee all the cyclists in the Tour de France are free of drugs.

In Perth, CSIRO and others are working on a number of aspects of blending recycling water into our aquifers for possible future incorporation into the drinking water supply. I attended a forum on the issue and I came away with the impression that those responsible for trying to find contaminants in the water and who, up until then had been unable to do so, would have been quite happy to drink the stuff themselves although they could not go so far as to declare that it would indeed be safe to do so.

From a health point of view my main concern would be that the government would allow testing standards to slip over time by, eg under-resourcing the body responsible for maintaining standards ( and it should be an independent body) or ignoring breaches etc. And heaven forbid they ever privatize the facility(ies). (Read The Blue Covenant by Maude Barlow.)

The biggest problem with all these synthetic 'solutions' to increasing water demand is that they are
(a) technologically complex
(b) financially costly
to build and to maintain.

No government is there forever. No government can guarantee that complex water recycling will be maintained three years hence, let alone flawlessly to perpetuity. The governments in this country have forced upon us a terrible problem of continuous population growth which they are not able to manage now and which will present even more problems in the future.

We can expect all complex technology to be allowed to fall to pieces, no matter what the consequences, as costs go up with fuel scarcity and economic decline.

I personally can think of no greater crime than to jeopardise the peoples' drinking water by knowingly increasing the demand for it to a point requiring complex technology and economic surplus to maintain it.

Our leaders and all those responsible should be put on trial for increasing the risks to our lives and needlessly complicating how we obtain basic resources.

Sheila Newman, population sociologist
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Something to ponder:

Put together hospital waste water being recycled (drugs/microbes) along with all the other recycled water contaminants of waste water and sewerage, the location of treatment facilities and a bird flu pandemic...what would happen?

Yes, it all ends up in the dams anyway...why not put it directly into the water supply and shorten the cycle....such is life.

Research shows that chlorinated water treatments are thought to be sufficient to inactivate the avian virus in water supplies. However, chlorinated as the water is in the U.S, the water supply has been known to carry residual drugs from human consumption and waste.

This cycling of water loaded with drug levels such as tamiflu might just up the quotient for a superbug problem once discharged into dams. But then again, it doesn't have to be avian flu which triggers an epidemic.

How much chlorine to ratio of waste water will keep the water safe? Certainly the research on chlorinated water combatting avian flu wasn't quite the SEQ scenario of pumping recycled water directly into the dams in high quantities.

Looking at statistics in avian influenza outbreaks and I think of the latest case in
Beijing, recyled water and drought ...some parallels to our scenario....drinking water in Beijing is well-chlorinated...apparently.

At 24°C in the tropics the virulence of influenza viruses in water exists for 2 days.At 7°C the virulence of influenza viruses in water extends to 14 days. Ducks, rice (fields, paddies = flooded by water; farmers at work drink the water from rice paddies) and people – not chickens – have emerged as the most significant factors in the spread of avian influenza in Asian countries. It is water-borne.

Dams/water birds/bird-droppings etc...join the dots for our own water supply.

With the Brisbane flu outbreak that is now globally circulating, low dams, recyled water stages coming online in our rivers, if not dams, and even a contamination incident coverup involving hospital waste water ..that was 2008.

August 2009 is the commencement of recycled water.

So supposed to kill avian influenza...however goodness knows what the ratio to contaminated water will ensure effectiveness in combatting infectious microbes and of what microbes it will be effective against and under what conditions.

If microbes are in the water that comes into contact with the water poses problems.

There are no guarantees. Chlorine has negative health effects (there is no doubt on that); water treatment is expensive (dental costs are too); chlorine kills microbes (not all, not always); waste water becomes drinking water eventually (treat or regulate); tank water (vs dengue fever), water-borne epidemic (vs how long does it take to activate chlorinated water in our supply and will that be soon enough vs all you have to do is boil the water) ...what do we define as an acceptable level of water quality and *quantity*...what is acceptable guarantees suffice in such scenarios.

Guaranteeing *no risk* is an invitation to litigation. Considering the dusty? taste of the water as chlorinated liquid poured from our taps this December (smelt bad, tasted bad, improved eventually) the whole of Brisbane would be entitled to compensation ...where sediments from heavy rain stirring up dry dams may indeed be the culprits or not.

Is a guarantee of any value at all? Who in fact pays the compensation?

Catch 22.