Public opinion restricts Queensland water reuse

The Queensland state government in north-east Australia has had to tell the Queensland Water Commission that reused wastewater can only be recycled to Wivenhoe dam in emergencies.

The commission advised the government that "misleading and false information, which has been reported without foundation, has impacted community confidence in this new source of water in recent weeks".

Market research findings from the commission show that community support for purified recycled water has decreased over time.

In early 2007, adding purified recycled water to Wivenhoe dam was supported by 75% of the community. Currently, it has 55% support and a further 39% are opposed to it.

Two thirds (66%) of south-east Queensland residents believe it should be excluded if dams reach a certain level. Of those 66%, 30% say the dam should be 50% full before the commission should stop adding recycled water and 29% say the dam should be 75% full before it should be stopped.

The commission and its independent scientific panel remain confident that purified recycled water continues to represent a safe and reliable source of supply which poses no additional risk to drinking water. The Commission also advised the Government that, if purified recycled water was used as an emergency supply only, the trigger level for its introduction into Wivenhoe dam would be when combined south-east Queensland dam levels drop to 40%.

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