As parts of Queensland revel in the liquid gold brought by La Niña, a mother in a former mining town pours water left in a glass back into a plastic bottle.
- Mount Morgan is suffering through a water crisis that the local development group fears could be hampering industry
- A local cafe shop pays for bottled water to make coffees, and families say their children don’t want to bathe in it
- Council is seeking state government funding as it increases water trucking to the town and says it is exploring long-term solutions
In the late 1800s, Mount Morgan was a river of gold – its mines yielding fortunes that spawned BP – but now Rockhampton council is paying up to $10,000 a day to truck water to the town.
Its water supply – No 7 dam – sits at just over 8 per cent, with the town currently at level 6 restrictions.
Locals say the tap water they do have tastes like “dirt”.
They say they don’t want to drink it, parents say their children don’t want to bathe in it, a coffee shop plumbs 15 litres of bottled water into their machine just to avoid complaints.
It’s a water crisis a local development group fears could be hampering industry.
Not good enough for coffee
Tracy Ehlers co-owns a café in town and said despite council deeming tap water safe for drinking she had received a slew of customer complaints.
“People saying that our coffee machine was starting to taste funky with the water the way it is so we don’t actually have it plumbed into the system,” she said.
“So we’ve actually resorted to buying big buckets, big gallons of water … every day so they’re getting filtered, fresh, clean water so they’re not having that nasty dirty taste.
“It might only be $10 for a 20L, 15L bottle of water but you want your sales to stay. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” she said.
“I won’t put my prices or anything up, I think that’s disrespectful to our community to start charging more for a commodity that we should be getting anyway.
A family struggles
Tattooed on La-Toya Grahame’s arm are the words: love, hope and faith.
She said the Mount Morgan’s water crisis was putting the latter to the test.
“If it’s not fixed for a long-term solution, I’ll have to [move away] because you can’t wash your kids in green algae, you can’t wash them in dirt,” she said.
Ms Grahame has been buying 10L bottles of water for her family to drink.
Her children don’t even want to shower in the tap water.
“They’re complaining about the smell because a bathroom or shower is a bit closed-in…