A $5 million expansion of the laboratory located adjacent to the Douglas Water Treatment Plant will ensure Townsville remains on the cutting edge of scientific analysis for decades.

The new laboratory was officially opened today by Mayor Jenny Hill and Townsville Water and Waste Committee chairperson Russ Cook.

Cr Hill said the lab had come a long way since it was established in a small demountable building on the site of the Douglas Water Treatment Plant in 1984 with one chemist and two lab assistants.

“In those days, the tests were limited to pH, alkalinity and chlorine. For other tests, samples were sent off to Brisbane,” Cr Hill said.

“Fast forward to 2021 and we have the most capable local government lab north of Brisbane in terms of the services it offers.

“A technical team of six scientists and eight technicians and assistants provide a range of analysis services including PFAS, algal toxins, disinfection by-products, trace metals for water, saline waters and biosolids and extensive microbiological testing.

“In fact, Townsville Laboratory Services is the only local government lab to hold PFAS testing accreditation.

“This is truly a facility that the people of Townsville can be very proud of and the new lab we open today provides the additional space needed to continue to grow the services it provides.”

Laboratory staff are looking at expanding into areas such as hygiene and emerging environmental contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, and personal care products like hair care products, oral care, and sunscreen lotions.

Cr 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.

“The NATA 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,” Cr Cook said.

“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.”