The detection of blue-green algae at Ross River Dam will now be completed in hours not days, following the introduction of new sensors.

Townsville City Council has installed the sensors on two buoys within the dam and another at the dam wall adjacent to the raw water supply point.

The sensors will provide daily data on important water quality indicators including temperature, pH, oxygen, clarity and algae levels in the raw water supply.

Water and Wastewater Committee Chairperson, Russ Cook, said quicker access to water quality information will improve Council’s ability to respond to changes in raw water quality.

“Currently our trained lab technicians manually collect various samples at different areas of the dam and take them back to the lab for analysis, with results produced usually days later after tests are completed,” Cr Cook said.

“This process is laborious and time-intensive, with results taking between two days to more than a week to be received depending on the complexity of the analysis required.

“With this system, we can get the data the same day and use the information to implement operational changes where required to maintain water production at the Douglas Water Treatment Plant.”

Mayor Jenny Hill said the sensors were a first for Townsville City Council.

“This project is just one in a suite of measures Council is taking to manage the blue-green algae and water quality impacts on Townsville’s treated water supply,” Cr Hill said.

“We also operate aerators in the dam to improve dissolved oxygen, have installed powdered activated carbon (PAC) dosing at the treatment plant to mitigate taste, odour and toxin risks and added pre-chlorination to the raw water supply coming into the Douglas Water Treatment Plant to improve filtration and are currently constructing two new clarifiers to improve the removal of impurities from the water at the Douglas Water Treatment Plant.

“Water security is a top priority for Council, and we want to ensure we have the appropriate infrastructure to supply safe and reliable water for residents.”

Feature image: Cr Russ Cook with one of the new high-tech sensors at the Ross River Dam. Image: City of Townsville.

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