FOR more than a decade recycled waste water has been used to irrigate Gladstone's sporting fields.

But in April the council abruptly stopped that supply, telling the sporting clubs that 'urgent maintenance' was required.

However, two months later, the council sent a letter that said the water was of "significant public health concern" - although no further information about the specific risk was offered.

A letter, sent to the Boyne Tannum Golf Club on June 15, said a draft report from Alpha Concepts, a consulting company offering solutions to industrial and environmental problems, said the "source of contamination had not yet been isolated" and a freshwater dam at the golf club had also been contaminated from run off.

"If council decides to continue with effluent irrigation on the sites, it will be some months before the system will be operational again...," the letter reads.

The five affected sporting clubs, some of which have been forced to truck in water at hefty costs, are looking at deteriorating playing surfaces, with little or no information about how they might work with the council to overcome this problem.

Because ultimately, Shayne Fett, the president of the Seagulls Junior Rugby League Club, says it will be parents who start picking up the bill.

"We've been put in the position where we will have to buy water," Mr Fett said.

DROUGHT STRICKEN: Greens director Craig Topfer stands on the Boyne Island golf course which is lifeless due to council’s decision to terminated water supply used to sustain the green. A water truck has been brought in to keep the green alive.
DROUGHT STRICKEN: Greens director Craig Topfer stands on the Boyne Island golf course which is lifeless due to council’s decision to terminated water supply used to sustain the green. A water truck has been brought in to keep the green alive. Paul Braven

"It's concerning for us to move into the future because we don't know how we will water the fields. If it's harmful then we don't want our kids rolling around in it, but really we just want some answers from the council.

"It's been months now and we still don't know what the problem is, or if the water will be turned it back on or not."

Mayor Gail Sellers told the Observer yesterday the water did not meet quality and licencing requirements and any solution would come at a "considerable cost".

For the Boyne Tannum Golf Club this couldn't have come at a worse time.

The club is paying between $400-$500 for each water truck to keep the green from dying ahead of one its biggest tournaments; with $40,000 in prize money.

Greens director Craig Topfer said people had been reluctant to pay their membership charges until they were assured the condition of the grounds would improve.

"We still don't really know why it was turned off," Mr Topfer said.

An existing arrangement the council has with sporting clubs does allow for 4000 kilolitres per year per hectare; but at the Boyne Tannum Golf Club - all 33ha of it - that lasts just two weeks.

"Ultimately, we want that effluent water turned back on," he said.

The council has diverted the recycled waste water over to QAL; they are disposing of that water as a service to the council free of charge.



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