DRINKING WATER: Tara residents are concerned about the water quality.
DRINKING WATER: Tara residents are concerned about the water quality. Brett Wortman

Tara's water woes

CONCERNED Tara residents have expressed their disappointment at Western Downs Regional Council, leaving members of the community wondering if they will ever be supplied with drinking water.

The issue of not having potable water in Tara has sparked renewed attention after the Western Downs Concerned Ratepayers group held meetings to discuss the rising rates in towns across the region.

A Tara resident said it was unacceptable the town had been without potable water for the past 13 years.

"It is a basic human right that people deserve and are entitled to have clean drinking water.

"Who wants to move to a town where you can't drink the water?”

Tara resident Sandra Bamberry said the water quality and supply was a major issue and it was contradictory that people should pay for water.

"There are no signs around town that the water is non-potable, and we get a lot of travellers come through Tara,” she said.

"Depending on what is in the water it can put people in danger.”

The council has invested $6.2 million since 2011 to deliver the project of the Tara Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Plant to produce clean water.

The bulk of the town's water supply comes from the plant.

On days of high usage this base water supply is mixed with treated water from the lagoon or chlorinated bore water.

Councillor for Utilities Peter Saxelby said the council got the water to the standard where it was good, clean, quality water.

"The town folk of Tara asked for good quality clean water, which council is supplying, it is just the fact that the water that is coming out of the ground is not up to a standard where we can produce that to a potable water.

"We could add all the chemicals in the world to it, we could do a lot of things but it might never get to that potable standard.

"But we've got the water to a suitable standard, it is clean, it's got no bacteria in it, it is just that it fluctuates sometimes and it cannot be brought up to just that little bit extra so that the State Government can class it as potable water.”

Cr Saxelby said Tara residents did not pay the full cost of water. Water charges for non-potable water supplies are 10 per cent lower than the standard charge for potable water supplies.

"Even if we could bring it up to that potable standard we might not be able to produce that potable standard all the time, so they might have to go on to harsher restrictions.”

Cr Saxelby said to supply potable water to Tara would amount to expenses that would be far too much for residents to pay, because many of the other towns across the Western Downs were subsidising their water supply.

"We don't make any money out of the water, it actually costs council to produce water,” he said.


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