Authorities switch off Port Douglas water supply after heavy rain washes debris into treatment plant

A Far North Queensland tourist town has been without its water supply since Sunday night as it continues to cope with the after-effects of last month’s devastating rain.

The local council issued an emergency alert to residents of Port Douglas on Sunday night, advising them to fill containers with drinking water before the town supply was switched off.

December’s torrential rain caused numerous landslides above the council’s water intakes, which became filled with mud and debris after subsequent downpours.

Douglas Shire Council Mayor Michael Kerr said the need to switch off water treatment plants meant it was unable to fill reservoirs.

Compounding the problem, he said “we’re using water far quicker than we’re making it“.

The council on Monday morning said its reservoir at Port Douglas was down to 12 per cent capacity, while another reservoir at nearby Craiglie was as low as 7 per cent.

It said there was “no ETA for turning the water back on in Port Douglas” but engineers were on-site to find a temporary solution.

“When we get the water back on, the priority is stop wasting it,” Cr Kerr said.

“We’re still having people using their sprinklers. We’ve still got people hosing things down. We’ve still got people filling up pools.

“We’re using more water at the moment than what we do when we’re at restriction level four.

“If people are only using water for cooking, cleaning, washing, we wouldn’t have gone through nearly 20 million litres yesterday.”

Bottled water has been made available to residents and visitors.

“We’re also working with the state government as we speak to get an extra filtration system put onto the water before it goes into the plant to stop this problem,” Cr Kerr said.

The Captain Cook Highway has reopened between Palm Cove and Port Douglas after more than a month.(Supplied: Department of Transport and Main Roads)

The water outage follows the reopening of the Captain Cook Highway between Port Douglas and Cairns on Saturday morning.

The main road between the two centres had been inaccessible since Tropical Cyclone Jasper caused multiple landslips and blockages.

Motorists travelling the route have been told to expect delays and multiple traffic controls are in place.

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