2015/2019 – Pooncarie (NSW). Blue Green Algae, Poor quality water

‘It’s pathetic’: drinkable water runs out as Pooncarie waits for approval to use brand-new bore


Water carting will begin to the town of Pooncarie south of Broken Hill on Thursday, because of a delay in getting approval to use the town’s newly constructed bore.

At a specially-called meeting on Tuesday night, Wentworth Shire councillors were told Pooncarie’s treatment plant was no longer able to ensure the drinking water supply from the Darling River met safe drinking water standards.

As the water level declines its quality is becoming lower, and the plant is reportedly having trouble dealing with algae and other issues as the situation worsens.

Emergency water carting has been organised because the state government hasn’t given the council permission to use the town’s newly constructed bore.

Wentworth mayor Bill Wheeldon said he’s furious about the holdup, especially given the state government is subsidising the water carting.

“That’s the stupid part about it,” he said.

“They’ve got a bore that the state government’s paid for but they haven’t done the paperwork, they haven’t approved the licence.

“It’s pathetic.”

Cr Wheeldon said there’s no indication as to when the licence might be approved.

The ABC has contacted the office of state water minister Niall Blair for a response.

“It seems so peculiar that the government should subsidise carting water to Pooncarie, but they won’t give us a bit of paper to say that we’re allowed to use the bore that they’ve paid for,” Cr Wheeldon said.

Red Alert for the Darling River at Pooncarie

6 February 2019

A Red Alert level warning (high alert) for blue-green algae has been issued for the Darling River at Pooncarie in the Lower Darling Region. Environmental conditions are currently well suited to algal growth due to high temperatures and low flows in the river.

A Red Alert level warning indicates that people should not undertake recreational activities where they may come into direct contact with the water such as swimming, as well as domestic uses including showering and washing. Contact with the water may also pose a threat to livestock and pets.

People are advised not to enter the water, drink untreated water or bathe in water drawn from the river while this Red Alert level warning is in place. Town water supplies remain unaffected and safe to drink.

Livestock owners are reminded to continue to check stock water supplies for blue-green algae and to remove stock from foreshores where surface scum is visible or blue-green algae are suspected.

People should not eat mussels or crayfish from Red Alert warning areas. Any fish caught should be cleaned and washed thoroughly in uncontaminated water and any internal organs disposed of before consumption.

Blue-green algae usually appear as green paint-like scums on the water, near the edges, or as greenish clumps throughout the water. It makes the water appear dirty, green or discoloured and generally has a strong musty or earthy odour.

The species of blue-green algae identified are potentially toxic and may cause gastroenteritis in humans if consumed and skin and eye irritations after contact. Boiling the water does not remove algal toxins.

Blue-green algae occur naturally and can reproduce quickly in favourable conditions where there is still or slow-flowing water, abundant sunlight and sufficient levels of nutrients.

It is not possible to predict how long the algae will remain at high levels. Regular monitoring will continue, and the alert will be lifted as soon as the high levels of algae dissipate.

People who believe they may have been affected by blue-green algae are advised to seek medical advice.

Algal red alert for Lower Darling River at Pooncarie and Burtundy

27 February 2018 A red level warning (high alert) for blue-green algae has been issued for the Lower Darling River from Pooncarie to Burtundy inclusive, WaterNSW announced today. This red alert may slowly move further downstream with water flow although current results are at amber levels.

WaterNSW takes into account water quality considerations such as blue-green algal concentrations when deciding on release rates under the current Lower Darling operations plan, which was formulated in consultation with downstream landholders.