Gympie council has revealed Gympie was running with only one operational water pump and was at serious risk of losing its water supply.
Gympie council has revealed Gympie was running with only one operational water pump and was at serious risk of losing its water supply.

EXCLUSIVE: How Gympie narrowly avoided a water catastrophe

WHEN it came to Gympie’s water, it turns out the Gympie Regional Council was playing with fire.

It has been revealed that for a three-month period earlier this year the Gympie city was one mechanical fault away from the catastrophic loss of its water supply.

The council yesterday confirmed that from July to September the Gympie Water Treatment Plant was operating with only one pump, and no back-ups. Protocol is to have two back-ups.

One of the back-up pumps was known to have problems as early as last November, and was pulled out of service in July after it was found to be electrically unsafe.

Two back-up pumps supposed to keep the city’s water supply afloat if the main one failed had not been repaired.
Two back-up pumps supposed to keep the city’s water supply afloat if the main one failed had not been repaired.

Council communications manager Sharna Rowley said the other back-up was in storage “however the condition had not been tested for several years, and when tested, this pump was also found to be faulty”.

This left only one pump running; if had failed, the town would have lost its water supply within 24 hours.

Mrs Rowley said this was the result of “poor management decisions” and a lack of direction” with maintenance.

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The pumps were repaired at a cost of $59,000.
The pumps were repaired at a cost of $59,000.

“New management has addressed these issues,” she said.

“The issue regarding the pumps has now been fixed with two pumps in operation … (and) the spare pump currently being repaired and due to be delivered soon.”

These repairs cost the council $59,000.

CEO Shane Gray said the problem was raised as a priority by staff.

“Our staff are incredibly passionate about our water and the service we deliver and have really stepped up to deal with some problems that have been raised,” Mr Gray said.

“We are extremely grateful of the effort that they are putting in for our community and for being proactive, jumping on every possible issue that we may have, and dealing with it straight away.

CEO Shane Gray says proactive staff brought the issue to the council’s attention.
CEO Shane Gray says proactive staff brought the issue to the council’s attention.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the work that they have done.”

Mayor Glen Hartwig said he was aware the front line employees had “frustrations” and he was grateful for their effort “to get things back on track”.

“We understand the predicament Gympie water supply was in due to lack of maintenance and that it was a very drastic situation that the town could have been in,” Mr Hartwig said.

“We’re grateful our new management is working with the frontline staff to get things up to scratch.

“We appreciate their work as would our ratepayers, knowing that as they turn on the tap they know water is going to come out.”