Town warned over arsenic threat to babies
Residents of the town of Bingara in northern New South Wales have been told their drinking water contains high levels of arsenic.
The Gwydir Shire council says it has met with health and state government officials and has been told the arsenic will not pose a safety risk for most people.
But Mayor Mark Coulton says very small children may be at risk and has warned mothers not to use town water supplies to mix baby formula.
“They’re concerned about infants under nine months mixing formula with the water,” he said.
“There’s no risk to adults or older children. It’s way below the world’s acceptable levels of arsenic but its high for NSW standards.”
Gwydir River tests aim to locate arsenic source
Gwydir Shire Council says it is waiting for the results of testing to try to narrow down the source of an arsenic contamination that is affecting Bingara’s water supply in north-west New South Wales.
While the water is safe for most people to drink, mothers with nursing babies have been warned not to use it to mix infant formula.
General manager Max Eastcott says samples from various points on the Gwydir River have been sent away for analysis.
“Hopefully from that we’ll be able to pinpoint at least the general locality of the source of arsenic so that we can concentrate our efforts in those particular locations to find out where it’s coming from,” he said.
Funding on track for Bingara water treatment plant
December 8, 2008
Bingara will have its new water treatment plant in operation by March 2010, according to Member for Northern Tablelands, Richard Torbay.
He said Minister for Water Phil Costa had confirmed the government would fund 67 per cent of the tender price, following a meeting with a delegation from Gwydir Council including Mayor Bob Tremain, Deputy David Rose and General Manager Max Eastcott at Parliament House last week.
“When he was Water Minister Premier Rees made a commitment and it is good to see the new Minister is honouring that,” Mr Torbay said.
“Bingara has a clear need for this plant, not only because of some pollution from old mines in the area but because a community of 1200 people is entitled to the best quality water supply.
“Council could not afford to contribute 50 per cent as is usually required with this type of funding but there are special considerations in this case and the government has responded positively to them.
“I have been pleased to work with the Council and the community on this project and it’s great to see that it can now move ahead.”
“The urgent need for a filtration plant at Bingara came to a head in 2006 when traces of arsenic from old silver, gold and arsenic mines were found in the water supply,” Mr Torbay said.
“Bingara’s water has always been pumped from the Gwydir River which at times carries the pollution from the abandoned mines upstream.”
An assessment of the level of filtration needed has been completed and with the funding approval Council will call for tenders early in the new year.
The new plant is expected to be in operation by the end of the first quarter in 2010.