2007/22: Beswick (Northern Territory). E.coli, Antimony, Arsenic, Hardness

Beswick – E.coli

2010/11: Beswick E.coli 3 detections, 92% E.coli performance for year


Thermotolerant coliforms are a sub-group of coliforms that are able to grow at 44.5 ± 0.2°C. E. coli is the most common thermotolerant coliform present in faeces and is regarded as the most specific indicator of recent faecal contamination because generally it is not capable of growth in the environment. In contrast, some other thermotolerant coliforms (including strains of Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Enterobacter) are able to grow in the environment and their presence is not necessarily related to faecal contamination. While tests for thermotolerant coliforms can be simpler than for E. coli, E. coli is considered a superior indicator for detecting faecal contamination…” ADWG

Beswick (Northern Territory) Antimony

2007/08: Beswick Antimony 0.0075mg/L

2008/09: Beswick Antimony 0.0074mg/L

2009/10: Beswick Antimony 0.0067mg/L

2010/11: Beswick Antimony 0.0068mg/L

2013/14: Beswick Antimony 0.007mg/L

2015/16: Beswick Antimony 0.0063mg/L

2016/17: Beswick Antimony 0.007mg/L (95th %)

2017/18: Beswick Antimony 0.007mg/L (95th %)

2018/19: Beswick Antimony 0.008mg/L (95th %)

2019/20: Beswick Antimony 0.008mg/L (95th %)

2020/21: Beswick Antimony 0.007mg/L (av.)

2021/22: Beswick Antimony 0.008mg/L (max), 0.007mg/L (av.)

Antimony: ADWG Guideline 0.003mg/L. Antimony shows similar toxic effects as arsenic. Can be a problem with antimony-tin solder.

Beswick (Northern Territory) Hardness

2007/08: Beswick Hardness 314mg/L

2008/09: Beswick Hardness 310mg/L

2009/10: Beswick Hardness 301mg/L

2010/11: Beswick Hardness 304mg/L

2013/14: Beswick Hardness 297mg/L

2015/16: Beswick Hardness 301mg/L

2016/17: Beswick Hardness 268mg/L

2020/21: Beswick 300mg/L (max), 300mg/L (av.)

2021/22: Beswick 300mg/L (max), 300mg/L (av.)


“To minimise undesirable build‑up of scale in hot water systems, total hardness (as calcium
carbonate) in drinking water should not exceed 200 mg/L.

Hard water requires more soap than soft water to obtain a lather. It can also cause scale to form on hot water pipes and fittings. Hardness is caused primarily by the presence of calcium and magnesium ions, although other cations such as strontium, iron, manganese and barium can also contribute.”

Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011

Beswick (Northern Territory) – Arsenic

2007/08: Beswick Arsenic 0.009mg/L

2008/09: Beswick Arsenic 0.0079mg/L

2009/10: Beswick Arsenic 0.0069mg/L

2010/11: Beswick Arsenic 0.0066mg/L

2015/16: Beswick Arsenic 0.0063mg/L (95th %)

2016/17: Beswick Arsenic 0.007mg/L (95th %)

2021/22: Beswick Arsenic 0.007mg/L (av.)

Arsenic: Australian Drinking Water Guideline = 0.01mg/L

Arsenic is bioaccumulative and symptoms may take 10-15 years to develop after expsoure at high levels. Drinking water can be contaminated with inorganic arsenic through wind blown dust, leaching or runoff from soil, rocks and sediment. Groundwater sources such as bores will usually have higher arsenic levels than surface water. In major Australian reticulated water supplies concentrations of arsenic range up to 0.015mg/L, with typical values less than
0.005mg/L. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/ph/documents/ehu/2676.pdf

Concerns about drinking water quality in ‘almost all’ remote NT communities. What can be done about it?


Health not the only concern

In the remote community of Beswick, about 116km south-east of Katherine, residents say the quality of water is costing them financially.

Beswick’s water is very high in calcium, also known as ‘hard water’.

Nearly every tap in the area is heavily calcified and residents say the hard water is damaging appliances many people cannot afford to replace.

“The jug gets damaged from all the calcium that builds up,” resident Patricia Curtis said.