Douglas dismayed as Cairns Water dismisses expert advice

Monday 07 September


Douglas dismayed as Cairns Water dismisses expert advice


Media release issued by Friends of The Douglas Shire

A deputation to Cairns Regional Council (CRC) was made on Wednesday 2 September by former DSC Mayor Mike Berwick and Mr Michael Gabour from Friends of Douglas Shire.


The deputation presented Professor Don Bursill's independent assessment of the two costly reports commissioned by CRC into the Douglas Water Supply and his positive suggestions as to possible ways forward to return to a chemical free system, something he believes is achievable.


However CRC is maintaining that it could take years to locate the source of contamination as it is impossible to find while the water is chlorinated.


Professor Bursill maintains that best practice would require Council to find and eliminate known sources of contamination in any event.


Council further questioned the integrity of Professor Bursill's report where he expresses misgivings about the monitoring and analysis of the water samples undertaken by CRC. Professor Bursill is arguably the most eminent water scientist in Australia and internationally renowned. (His profile can be found at ).


While we agree CRC needs time to seek further clarification of the Professor's report, the deputation failed to get a commitment from CRC that
they would adopt his report and act on his recommendations.  Under the Australian Water Quality Drinking Guidelines (co- authored by the Professor and applied nationally ) significant weight is given to community aspirations. Overwhelmingly, the Douglas Shire residents did aspire to a chemical free water supply and were prepared to pay for it. It is a significant element of this community's social capital and another marker of the cultural differences between Douglas and Cairns .


Chlorination of our supply again tears at our social fabric like so many other issues post forced amalgamation.  We also do not believe that the local Health Department expertise is sufficient to deal with the issues raised in the report.  To this end we are also seeking a deputation to brief the State Health Minister and senior staff.


Council has suggested that we go jointly to the Minister which we are quite happy to do provided it takes us in the same direction suggested in the report. If we fail to reach a consensus with council on this point we shall go with Professor Bursill to the Minister to present our case.


Further information can be obtained by contacting
Michael Gabour 07 4099 3667
Mike Berwick 07 4098 6148


Editor's comments - There doesn't't appear to be any comprehension regarding just how passionately the residents of the old Douglas Shire feel about a chemical free water supply, perhaps the CRC think that we will simply fall into line with their dictates like the rest of the Cairns metropolis appears to do.  We will need to demonstrate to them that we are indeed not a herd of sheep to be pushed into whatever convenient pen they see fit.  Chemical free water is our right, we paid for it once, it looks like we will have to fight for the right to pay for it again !