11 July 2017

Kirwan residents water saving concerns brushed by Council

Image: Water gushing from TCC fire hydrant in Kirwan
Kirwan residents have been told to “leave it alone” by Townsville City Council attempting to turn off a fire hydrant releasing thousands of litres of fresh drinking water in the streets on Sunday morning.

When Council workers were asked by our TREN reporter what is happening as thousands of litres of fresh water was being hosed down the drain through an open fire hydrant, they responded in a short and sharp tone of voice telling residents to “leave it alone”.

In the Council’s own recruitment messages, they are saying that “residents and the community are at the heart of all the Council does as it strives to facilitate sustainable economic development for the region, enhance the quality of life for residents, and identify and unlock the potential of the City.”

Image: TREN footage of water wastage in Kirwan

The TCC said how they propose to achieve its workforce redesign is “through inspired leadership, co-design of services with the community and sustainable and innovative partnering.”

Townsville residents are facing strict level 3 water restrictions with TCC announcing any water usage outside scheduled times and in breach of the water usage policy will be penalised.

The Kirwan incident comes as the 90,000 homeowners across Townsville are paying for pumping water from the Burdekin Dam as the local water storage in Ross Dam is 20 percent full.

With the forthcoming dry winter and spring season in Townsville expected to yield little rainfall, planned and purposeful water wastage by residents and seemingly careless Council officials is a bitter pill to swallow for Kirwan residents on-site of the incident on the Cnr of Frank Street and Bamford Lane Sunday morning.

Hundreds of residents on the Water for Townsville Action Group (WFTAG) Facebook page, with 12,000 subscribers, have responded to the Kirwan incident with many commenting they would have collected the water in buckets and used it on their own gardens.

The WFTAG community raised suggestions for water-saving measures including pumping the water into a water truck or suggesting council water engineers adopt better water saving techniques when carrying out maintenance.

The TCC has come under fire from Council employees and Unions for the 144 redundancies announced as part of a management restructure.

The Labor appointed Townsville water task force has adopted a double pipeline solution and pumping plan from the Burdekin Dam instead of adding capacity to Ross Dam or building extra dam infrastructure in the region.

The council budget for pumping water from the Burdekin pipeline is $7 million per annum while Townsville’s council rates are already the highest in the state.

Mayor Cr. Hill announced recently a confusing discount as part of the council budget to reduce the financial burden of the council rates. TCC cut payments for regular rate payments but penalised residents who pay early by reducing the discount, saving the 90,000 residences $1.5 million per annum.

Water management plans and techniques applied by Townsville City Council bring additional pressure on the local government at a time when only 12 months earlier the Mayor said water infrastructure was not a concern.

The Townsville economy has struggled with large industrial business closures due to mining price reductions and high energy prices.

As a means of stimulating employment, the local government authority has been accused of misdirecting ratepayer resources towards a football stadium, CBD development and an oversupply of residential housing.

Investment in vital water infrastructure, industry and business for sustainable economic growth to create employment opportunities for workers has taken its toll on the community, causing frustration, stress and over 9000 people to abandon the community. The Council’s own employees have been affected also.

Many of the Council’s employees have also been made redundant after the Council adopted the Naus Report which highlighted the toxic and ineffective management at the Townsville Council and 144 positions were redundant to the future vision of the local government authority.

The response by council workers to the concerned Kirwan residents could be a sign of the toxic, stressful and thankless management at the TCC. Workers doing their job on a day set aside for rest and family could explain the short sharp response in the “Leave it alone” tone with residents.
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