2012 Meeniyan (Victoria) – Cryptosporidium
ON Friday June 15, South Gippsland Water issued a Boil Water Alert for the township of Meeniyan. The Corporation received results from a water sample taken from the Meeniyan Water Supply System that returned a low level reading for Cryptosporidium (which is a type of protozoa, a microorganism parasite). The Meeniyan township was immediately issued with an alert, and systems activated to ensure the community was informed.
Further testing has been carried out over the weekend and South Gippsland Water is waiting to receive notification ofthe all clear from the Department of Health before the Boil Water Alert will be lifted…
The testing that detected the Cryptosporidium was a proactive test conducted over and above South Gippsland Water’s testing requirements. The Corporation voluntarily elects to test for this microorganism and does this testing at times when the risks and likelihood of detecting it are at their highest. Due to the recent flood conditions along the Tarwin River which is the source for the Meeniyan water supply, South Gippsland Water elected to conduct extra testing for
organisims such as Cryptosporidium during last week… Once a form of contamination was detected South Gippsland Water notified all businesses and homes in the area…”
2007/8 Meeniyan THM’s 0.260mg/L (Highest Level Only)
Trihalomethanes Australian Guideline Level 250μg/L (0.25mg/L)
Why and how are THMs formed?
“When chlorine is added to water with organic material, such as algae, river weeds, and decaying leaves, THMs are formed. Residual chlorine molecules react with this harmless organic material to form a group of chlorinated chemical compounds, THMs. They are tasteless and odourless, but harmful and potentially toxic. The quantity of by-products formed is determined by several factors, such as the amount and type of organic material present in water, temperature, pH, chlorine dosage, contact time available for chlorine, and bromide concentration in the water. The organic matter in water mainly consists of a) humic substance, which is the organic portion of soil that remains after prolonged microbial decomposition formed by the decay of leaves, wood, and other vegetable matter; and b) fulvic acid, which is a water soluble substance of low molecular weight that is derived from humus”. Source: http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/index.cfm
According to the ADWG, no health guideline has been adopted for Aluminium, but that the issue is still open to review. Aluminium can come from natural geological sources or from the use of aluminium salts as coagulants in water treatment plants. According to the ADWG “A well-operated water filtration plant (even using aluminium as a flocculant) can achieve aluminium concentrations in the finished water of less than 0.1 mg/L.
The most common form of aluminium in water treatment plants is Aluminium Sulfate (Alum). Alum can be supplied as a bulk liquid or in granular form. It is used at water treatment plants as a coagulant to remove turbidity, microorganisms, organic matter and inorganic chemicals. If water is particularly dirty an Alum dose of as high as 500mg/L could occur. There is also concern that other metals may also exist in refined alum.
While the ADWG mentions that there is considerable evidence that Aluminium is neurotoxic and can pass the gut barrier to accumulate in the blood, leading to a condition called encephalopathy (dialysis dementia) and that Aluminium has been associated with Parkinsonism dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the NHMRC, whilst also acknowledging studies which have linked Aluminium with Alzheimer disease, has not granted Aluminium a NOEL (No Observable Effect Level) due to insufficient and contradictory data. Without a NOEL, a health guideline cannot be established. The NHMRC has also stated that if new information comes to hand, a health guideline may be established in the future.
In communication with Aluminium expert Dr Chris Exley (Professor in Bioinorganic Chemistry
The Birchall Centre, Lennard-Jones Laboratories, Keele University, Staffordshire UK) in March 2013 regarding high levels of Aluminium detected in the South Western Victorian town of Hamilton
“It is my opinion that any value above 0.5 mg/L is totally unacceptable and a potential health risk. Where such values are maintained over days, weeks or even months, as indeed is indicated by the data you sent to me, these represent a significant health risk to all consumers. While consumers may not experience any short term health effects the result of longer term exposure to elevated levels of aluminium in potable waters may be a significant increase in the body burden of aluminium in these individuals. This artificially increased body burden will not return to ‘normal’ levels when the Al content of the potable water returns to normal but will act as a new platform level from which the Al body burden will continue to increase with age.