IN 1984, TOWNSVILLE CITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHED A LABORATORY IN A SMALL DEMOUNTABLE BUILDING ADJACENT TO THE DOUGLAS WATER TREATMENT PLANT AT THE FOOT OF MOUNT STUART.
It housed one chemist and two lab assistants, and tests were limited to pH, alkalinity and chlorine. For other tests, samples were sent off to Brisbane.
Fast forward 37 years and a new $5 million laboratory has been opened on the site, a facility that will keep Townsville on the cutting edge of scientific analysis for decades to come.
The new lab is home to a technical team of six scientists and eight technicians and assistants providing a range of analysis services including per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) analysis, low level nutrients, hexavalent chromium, algal toxins, disinfection by-products, trace metals for water, saline waters and biosolids and extensive microbiological testing.
In fact, Townsville Laboratory Services is the first and only local government lab to hold comprehensive PFAS testing accreditation in the whole of Australia.
Laboratory coordinator Edgar Salvador, who has worked at the lab for more than 20 years, said the new laboratory would allow the lab to increase its capability and capacity.
“In the old lab we were limited in what we could do as there was literally no more room on the bench,” Mr Salvador said.
“These days we are getting engaged by a lot of state and local governments and private companies, and now we have the space we should be able to expand even more – not only in what we currently do but in other areas of testing like hygiene, emerging contaminants and food testing.”
Mr Salvador said the new laboratory also gave the team space to house the large amount of equipment needed to complete the large number of tests needed for Council and external clients.
“We have a range of chemical and microbiological equipment we use every day for analysing drinking water, wastewater, environmental and pool waters,” he said.
“We also have a wide range of instrumentation that we use for analysing the highly difficult inorganics and organics and even emerging contaminants.”
“This new lab allows us to have room to take on more clients and to continue to provide comprehensive testing not only for Townsville City Council but for other councils and private clients as well.
“It’s been worth the wait for the team and I to be able to move into this impressive new building so that we can continue providing high-quality testing.”
Mayor Jenny Hill, a self-confessed science nerd who spent more than 20 years working in laboratories before being elected to council, said the new lab was a facility that the people of Townsville should be very proud of.
“Our lab, and the scientists, technicians and assistants it houses, does world-class scientific analysis right here in Townsville,” Cr Hill said.
“Council is proud to be the home of a laboratory that not only offers highly accurate testing to the Townsville region, but also to the rest of the country.
“The new lab delivers the additional space needed to continue to grow the services it provides. It is great to see the team settled in and enjoying their work in the new laboratory.”
Townsville Water and Waste Committee chairperson Russ Cook said the laboratory had recently retained its National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA )accreditation, confirming its place amongst some of the country’s leading laboratories.
“NATA accreditation is like a badge of honour and I know the entire team was thrilled to get the tick again,” Cr Cook said.
“Accreditation ensures that results recorded in the laboratory are traceable to metrological standards, allowing the lab to provide testing to other councils, residents and private companies.
“Being able to ensure the quality of the analytical results means that the lab can offer its services to external companies and residents who need to use a high-quality lab.”
Editorial supplied by Townsville City Council