Why Gladstone Council is drug testing our sewage

AREA OF CONCERN: Gladstone has been identified as a problem area for drug usage.
AREA OF CONCERN: Gladstone has been identified as a problem area for drug usage. Sang Tan

IT MIGHT be unpleasant, but Gladstone Regional Council and the University of Queensland are combing through our sewage to find out how much of a drug problem the region has.

The council was contacted by the Entox team at the university to take part in their SewAus study.

The study aims to assess human use and exposure to chemicals, including drugs in the Australian population by collecting and analysing wastewater.

The council provided wastewater treatment plant samples during a seven-day period in August last year.

The findings are yet to be released.

However at yesterday's commercial services meeting, the possibility of additional sampling was brought to the attention of the council.

Committee chair PJ Sobhanian said there was a possibility the program could be used more widely in the future.

Cr Cindi Bush said the testing would give the council an estimate on how many people used drugs in the region.

"The whole idea with testing is we've been identified as an area of great concern outside of the south-east corner (for drug use)," she said.

"This is one way of plotting how bad the problem is."

Cr Bush said anecdotally she knew there was a "really severe" drug problem in the region.

"If we could have that substantiated by science then we've got greater capacity to apply for funds," she said.

During the meeting Cr Bush said if testing was done on particular plants it might show where some problem areas were and potentially more focus and/or services could be placed in those areas.

Topics:  editors picks gladstone regional council university of queensland

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