Oakey water supply update

Water coming from tap

Your reticulated drinking water is safe. It comes from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant in Toowoomba and is piped to Oakey. It is safe to drink and for indoor and outdoor use.

History of Oakey’s water supply

Oakey residents can be assured their reticulated town water supply complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and is safe to drink.

The PFAS (Perfluoroalkyl Substances) contamination from the Oakey Army Aviation Base impacts only groundwater sources. There is no relationship between the underground water aquifers (bore water supply) and Council’s reticulated water supply.

As a drought measure from October 2008 until November 2012 the water coming from the Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply was supplemented with water sourced from the ground water aquifer and treated at the Oakey Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plant. Analysis of the treatment process (including Reverse Osmosis and blending with water from Toowoomba) from October 2008 to November 2012, means Council engineers are of the opinion that water supplied during that period would have complied with the latest USEPA Guidelines (May 2016). The US Environmental Protection Agency has advised that ‘public water systems can treat source water with high-pressure membrane systems (e.g. reverse osmosis) to remove PFOA and PFOS from drinking water*.

Oakey has been supplied with water from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant since the commissioning of the Toowoomba-Oakey pipeline in December 1997.

*Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U. (2016) Drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/groundwater-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-healthadvisories-pfoa-and-pfos (Accessed: 11 August 2016).

Community concern regarding Oakey water

Our job as Council is to advocate and support our Oakey community. We share the community’s concern for the damage that has been done to the reputation of our town and we are urging the Department of Defence to show some empathy for our residents and to provide future certainty. 

Next steps

We are liaising with the Department of Defence to understand their position and how they plan to resolve the issue for the people affected.

The Commonwealth Department of Health has asked Food Standard Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to develop health-based guidance values (HBGV) for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS).

For further information on the above assessments and the issue of private bore water use, please contact the Department of Defence on 1800 136 129.

Key terms used when discussing Oakey water

  • Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) is used primarily to control fires involving flammable liquids such as fuel and oil.
  • Bore water is groundwater that has been accessed by drilling a bore into water storages underground called aquifers.
  • PFOS and PFOA are perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and were active ingredients in aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) used extensively worldwide, and within Australia, from the 1970s by both civilian and military authorities to extinguish liquid fuel fires.
  • Toowoomba Bulk Water Supply is drinking water currently supplied by three local dams, Cooby, Perseverance and Cressbrook, and the Wivenhoe Dam pipeline. Oakey township’s reticulated water supply is sourced exclusively from the Mt Kynoch Water Treatment Plant in Toowoomba.
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