2015: – Rural properties near Narrabri (NSW) – Lead, Copper

Lead study shows high levels in water in Tamworth and Armidale


A fifth of the water samples taken from taps in homes in Tamworth and Armidale as part of an ongoing state-wide study have come back with high lead contamination levels.

Macquarie University’s Paul Harvey collected samples from the northern New South Wales towns earlier this month, as part of a year-long program of testing for lead, copper, manganese and arsenic in private water supplies.

The testing program has found high levels of lead in tap water across the state, with the highest levels recorded on rural properties around Narrabri earlier this year.

Mr Harvey said some samples in Tamworth and Armidale were high.

“Of my almost 40 samples there’s about 21 per cent that I identify as having a concerning concentration of lead,” he said.

“When I say concerning that to me is between half the Guideline or anywhere from half to the Guideline or above.”

Acceptable lead levels in water are set out in the Australian Drinking Water Guideline.

Mr Harvey said the results are consistent with what he’s seen across other parts of the state.

“The other elements that I was particularly interested in – arsenic, copper and manganese – we don’t have anything in particular to take note of but certainly the lead is higher,” he said.

“This is consistent with what we’re seeing across the rest of the state where lead stands out as one of the dominant issues of the water, whereas everything else seems quite normal and fine.”

Mr Harvey will now use the results gathered across the state to prepare a report, expected in February next year.

Tests reveal concerning lead levels in drinking water



A PhD researcher has found high levels of lead and copper in the drinking water supplies of some rural properties around Narrabri.

Paul Harvey from Macquarie University said 12 per cent of the samples he collected returned a result above the guidelines for an acceptable level of lead, and 10 per cent of samples tested had a higher than acceptable level of copper.

Mr Harvey has tested water supplies across the state, and said the lead and copper levels in supplies in Narrabri are the highest.

He said it’s not reflective of a problem with the town water supply, as the properties with high levels of lead and copper collect their own drinking water.

“Those who draw from the reticulated supply actually don’t have a very high concentration, if anything at all,” Mr Harvey said.

“There’s a really clear contrast between those that collect their own water from a roof catchment or a bore compared to those who are on the town supply.”

Mr Harvey said the contamination is likely caused by the materials the water touches as it’s captured or stored.

“It’s advisable not to consume that water, perhaps consider an alternate source or a filtration mechanism until you can actually resolve the contamination source.”