IN HOT WA­TER

Boil alert back­lash

Dubbo Photo News - - Front Page - BY YVETTE AUBUS­SON-FO­LEY

WHEN the Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil re­ceived phone calls from an­gry and con­cerned res­i­dents this week who de­manded to know (mis­tak­enly) how the ebola (yes, ebola) virus could get into Dubbo’s wa­ter re­serves, two things were hap­pen­ing.

Peo­ple were not be­ing re­as­sured by coun­cil di­rec­tives or choos­ing not to un­der­stand the mes­sage con­veyed.

“It’s a per­fectly un­der­stand­able re­ac­tion. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple re­act in cer­tain ways and it’s not sur­pris­ing to us that there is this con­cern be­ing ex­pressed. We’re do­ing what we can to re­as­sure peo­ple,” Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil direc­tor of tech­ni­cal ser­vices Ste­wart Mcleod told Dubbo Week­ender.

A boil wa­ter alert is­sued on Novem­ber 7 quickly turned to alarm when res­i­dents un­der­stood the alert came two days af­ter ecoli was found to be present in North Dubbo, af­fect­ing the New­town and Myall wa­ter re­serves which were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

“It was a low level de­tec­tion and that won’t nor­mally make you sick but it’s an in­di­ca­tion that some­thing had con­tam­i­nated the wa­ter and it’s a stan­dard pro­to­col in the Aus­tralian Drink­ing Wa­ter Guide­lines, the De­part­ment of Health, and all Aus­tralian Wa­ter Util­ity guide­lines that if there is a pos­si­bil­ity of some­thing which might hav­ing got­ten into the wa­ter, we’re bet­ter off tak­ing the pre­cau­tion of ask­ing peo­ple to boil the wa­ter,” he said.

“It’s an in­di­ca­tion that Aus­tralian wa­ter stan­dards are as good as any in the world. We aim to main­tain that. It’s im­por­tant for our cus­tomers to be re­as­sured. We’re will­ing to im­pose this un­pop­u­lar mea­sure be­cause we do want to take care of peo­ple’s health. If there’s any risk the wa­ter might con­tain some­thing we’re not sure of, then we is­sue the boil wa­ter alert,” Mcleod said.

In an­swer to res­i­dents ques­tion­ing why they have to boil wa­ter when they pay rates, Mcleod said: “This is a nor­mal part of our us run­ning a wa­ter sup­ply. We you don’t like to have a boil wa­ter alert but it is stan­dard op­er­a­tional pro­ce­dure. It is sim­ply part of us run­ning a safe and suc­cess­ful wa­ter sup­ply. It is part of what peo­ple are pay­ing their wa­ter charges for. It’s an un­usual oc­cur­rence but a nor­mal way of of do­ing busi­ness. Thank­fully it is rare,” he said.

In re­cent years year boil wa­ter alerts were is­sued by Wal­gett Shire Coun­cil (Au­gust, 2016), Bega Val­ley Shire Coun­cil (Jan­uary and June, 2016), South Bro­ken Hill (Jan­uary 2015), Jenolan Caves Trust (Jan­uary 2015), Cowra Shire Coun­cil (Novem­ber 2014), Wal­gett Shire Coun­cil (April 2014).

“We’re cer­tainly not on our own. There’s prob­a­bly ten to 20 boil wa­ter alerts in Aus­tralia in any one year. It’s one of the last tools in the tool box. We show no hes­i­ta­tion to do it. Aus­tralia and Dubbo has world class qual­ity wa­ter. We err on the cau­tion,” Mcleod said.

The lat­est state­ment from coun­cil is that un­til fur­ther sam­pling is un­der­taken keep boil­ing the wa­ter.

“The stan­dard pro­ce­dure at that stage is to take fur­ther sam­ples, be­gin flush­ing of lines and in­crease chlo­rine lev­els,”

“Af­ter a sec­ond, low level read of ecoli came through over the week­end, the same ac­tions were con­tin­ued and an in­spec­tion of the reser­voir took place,”

“Fur­ther sam­pling was con­ducted on Sun­day, and a tele­con­fer­ence was called with Pub­lic Health on Mon­day morn­ing to call a Boil Wa­ter No­tice as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure while in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue,” Mr Mcleod said.

“Al­though there have been im­prove­ments ob­served since test­ing be­gan, two clear sam­ples need to be re­turned from NSW Health be­fore the all clear can be given.”

“Ob­vi­ous sources of con­tam­i­na­tion such as de­lib­er­ate tam­per­ing have been ruled out so staff are con­duct­ing on­go­ing ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions to iso­late the source.”

“These ac­tions are be­ing un­der­taken by Coun­cil staff who are also con­sult­ing reg­u­larly with NSW Pub­lic Health and the Chair of the DRC Drink­ing Wa­ter Qual­ity Com­mit­tee Clara Lay­don, who was brought on board as an in­de­pen­dent ad­vi­sor and to as­sist with col­lat­ing data for re­port­ing pur­poses.”

“I would like to re­it­er­ate that the pro­cesses that have been fol­lowed by Coun­cil dur­ing this pe­riod re­flect the best prac­tice of the in­dus­try and will con­tinue to do so.”

The Boil Wa­ter No­tice is cur­rently in place for North Dubbo, west of the rail­way line, and Cen­tral and South Dubbo west of Fitzroy Street.

Test­ing for ecoli

LO­CAL com­pany En­vi­ro­science reg­u­larly un­der­takes wa­ter test­ing pro­ce­dures. When test­ing for the ecoli, Ken Archer from En­vi­ron­science said: “In­ves­ti­gat­ing fae­cal con­tam­i­na­tion in a wa­ter sup­ply, a quan­tity of wa­ter is fil­tered onto a grid­ded fil­ter disc. Which is then in­cu­bated onto a petri dish, gen­er­ally chrome agar and in­cu­bated at 35 to 37 de­grees for 24 hours.

“The pres­ence of E.coli and/or fae­cal co­l­iforms is an in­di­ca­tion of con­tam­i­na­tion by Bowel flora from an or­gan­ism. Typ­i­cally this is found in sew­er­age ingress into houses or fae­cal con­tam­i­na­tion of bore wa­ter.”

E.coli and Co­l­iforms are “sig­nal” or­gan­isms in­di­cat­ing that there could be other pathogens such as Hepati­tis A/B, or Giar­dia, Ro­tavirus etc. “

At this stage, all in­di­ca­tors are show­ing con­tam­i­na­tion in Dubbo’s wa­ter sup­ply is low level and a source is yet to be de­ter­mined.

Boil Wa­ter Alert lifted for South and Cen­tral Dubbo

DUBBO Re­gional Coun­cil direc­tor of tech­ni­cal ser­vices Ste­wart Mcleod ad­vises that the area af­fected by the Boil Wa­ter No­tice has been re­duced af­ter ex­ten­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tions and test­ing were car­ried out to iden­tify and iso­late the con­tam­i­na­tion.

“Coun­cil, in con­sul­ta­tion with NSW Health, are pleased to say that the retic­u­lated wa­ter sup­ply sys­tem for South and Cen­tral Dubbo can now be de­clared nor­mal,” Mr Mcleod said.

“The Boil Wa­ter No­tice is still in place for North Dubbo as in­spec­tions con­ducted on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at the Myall Street Reser­voir dis­cov­ered ev­i­dence of birdlife. Roost­ing birds and nests in reser­voirs are known to cause con­tam­i­na­tion of this kind

“For the area served by the Myall Street Reser­voir, which is North Dubbo, the Boil Wa­ter No­tice will re­main in place while reser­voir clean­ing and fur­ther sam­pling are un­der­taken.

“Staff have been fol­low­ing anti-con­tam­i­na­tion pro­ce­dures since last Thurs­day when the first failed wa­ter sam­ple was re­ceived, with low lev­els of E. coli de­tected,” Mr Mcleod said.

“Af­ter a sec­ond, low level read of E coli came through over the week­end, the same ac­tions were con­tin­ued and an in­spec­tion of the reser­voir took place.”

“Fur­ther sam­pling was con­ducted on Sun­day, and a tele­con­fer­ence was held with NSW Health on Mon­day morn­ing at which a Boil Wa­ter No­tice was put in place while in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tin­ued,” Mr Mcleod said.

“Al­though there have been im­prove­ments ob­served over­all since test­ing be­gan, Coun­cil will con­tinue to work with NSW Health to en­sure the sys­tem has re­turned to nor­mal be­fore the boil wa­ter alert is lifted.

“I would like to re­it­er­ate that the pro­cesses that have been fol­lowed by Coun­cil dur­ing this pe­riod re­flect the best prac­tice of the in­dus­try and will con­tinue to do so, and we ap­pre­ci­ate your pa­tience as we work to rec­tify this sit­u­a­tion.”

For more in­for­ma­tion and an up­dated map of the af­fected area, please visit Coun­cil’s web­site.

Cbd-based Dr Amal Tadros brought wa­ter to work

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