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Fiskville #18 - From Acting CEO Euan Ferguson
Fiskville Firefighting Water Supply and Treatment
Recently, there has been some confusion around the water quality at our Fiskville site. It's important for our members to know which water supply is being used at Fiskville and where the water is sourced from. Attached is a diagram of the Fiskville hot fire Practical Area Drill (PAD) and the water storage and pumping systems used to transport water for hot fire training.
All water currently used at Fiskville for training drills is town water sourced directly from Central Highlands Water. We will continue to use town water until our environmental consultants, Cardno Lane Piper, develop new water supply and management systems for our training grounds.
There are currently two storage areas into which we collect town water from Central Highlands Water for use on the PAD.
1. The first storage area is called the underground storage tank (the Pit), which holds up to 220,000 litres of water. This is the tank from which we source our water supply for our training drills.
2. The second storage area is a newly installed above ground tank (just behind the Victoria University Building), which holds 260,000 litres of water. This tank provides water for our backup safety water supply line and is used to cool props as well as providing a back-up source in the unlikely event that the water supply from the Pit fails during a drill.
These are currently the only two water supplies to the PAD used for training. At no time, is any water used from any of the dams.
When a hot fire drill is conducted on the PAD, the waste water runs off the PAD into a surge tank, where it collects before being channelled into a triple interceptor trap. The triple interceptor trap separates out oils and sludge from the waste water before it then drains into Dam 1. The oils and sludge are collected and removed by an appropriately qualified waste removal company on a regular basis.
A representative of Central Highlands Water (CHW) visits the Fiskville site each week and takes a sample of the water in the Pit for testing. CHW are an independent body who are NATA certified to take samples, and they do so in accordance with their established procedures. Once CHW take the samples, they transport them to their laboratory where they are processed. It takes CHW's laboratory 12 days to process the test results, which are then sent directly by CHW to Cardno Lane Piper for interpretation and the provision of a cover letter with their advice on the results. CHW's test results, along with Cardno Lane Piper's cover letter are published on our website.
The testing described above is undertaken in accordance with Fiskville's Water Management Plan using the Environmental Protection Authority's established criteria for Class A recycled water. We will continue to use these criteria until Cardno Lane Piper develop a set of water quality criteria specifically for our fire training water.
It is important to understand that whilst the water provided by Central Highland Water is drinking water quality (and is used as such throughout the rest of the Fiskville site), once it is collected and stored in the Pit, we can no longer assume that it remains suitable for drinking.
The Pit is covered by metal grates that allow for some runoff from the surrounding areas to enter the Pit - particular after periods of heavy rain. This runoff may include clay, mud and dirt particles which can make the water cloudy. When these particles are present in the Pit, they are picked up in the tests and are reported as ‘suspended solids'.
You may have heard reports recently that some of our test results have shown that the presence of suspended solids in the Pit have exceeded the test criteria. This is true, however Cardno Lane Piper have confirmed that these results do not represent a risk to the health of firefighter trainees or supervisors. You can view their advice on the water test result page on our website.
In order to alleviate any concerns, our Fiskville management team have emptied and washed the Pit since the date of the latest test results. In addition, another new above ground water storage tank will be installed by mid-October to replace the Pit. This will provide us with a supply of town water which will no longer be affected by rain water run-off and any associated clay or dirt particles.