Why invest in water?
At the end of the day what is the benefit of monitoring the drinking water and general water quality?
- This is an issue that many in general industry struggle with because they do not have a new grader or something they can put their hands on for all the money they spent.
It is similar to a myriad of other scenarios where if you cannot physically see the material benefits (“material world”) you only come to realise the importance once the outcomes manifest in a detrimental but material way. There are many examples of this pertaining to water quality including costly events for several Australian mining companies.
A certain uranium mine had an event where process water contaminated drinking water supplies in 2004.
- What were the costs to the mine when closed during the investigation of this incident? $10million or perhaps $200 million
- What are the costs to those unfortunate persons who drank the contaminated water? Their health and quality of life or perhaps worse?
- What alerted the mine to the incident? Water monitoring on site by trained persons on pre-determined monitoring schedules discovered a significant jump in drinking water conductivity. If it wasn’t for monitoring programs the incident could have been far worse.
What are the obligations outlined under the various Health and Safety Acts (Queensland Health and Safety Act 2011, Queensland Coal Safety and Health Act 1999) and how does industry demonstrate it is meeting these obligations when challenged by authorities?
Essentially the sections of the Health and Safety Acts that pertain to the provision of drinking water describe the obligation of both the manufacturer as well as the supplier of a substance (in this case water) that the substance must not cause harm if used correctly.
- The provision of safe drinking water is one of the most important steps that can be taken to improve the health of a community and thereby productivity by preventing water-borne disease.
- The maintenance of a sufficient supply of wholesome drinking water is a complex undertaking in which individuals from many disciplines have a role.
- Therefore, a key management process is to ensure that all the related disciplines are competent and achieve their goals as well as ensure communications between all parties.
From the above examples, it is also important to recognise the risks to water quality at an industrial site, refinery or mine site are significantly different to the general community water supply by virtue of the activities inherent to these industries.