2017 June: Leyburn (Queensland) – Pharmaceuticals

Leyburn water “safe to drink”

2017 June: Southern Free Times (Warwick)

The council issued a statement on Wednesday last week advising that “low levels” of “pharmaceuticals” – along with artificial sweetener and caffeine – had been detected in the Leyburn town water supply, which comes from an aquifer bore.

Mr See has since told the Free Times that a council investigation of the issue could take “a month or so”, but has assured Leyburn locals the contamination is not a threat to health.
The council has said it believes the contamination is the result of an infiltration of the aquifer which supplies the town by either septic or agricultural material.

The Free Times understands the contamination is most likely to be septic in nature, with a vast array of substances found in septic wastewater, including residue from illicit drugs along with pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, mood-stabilising medications and hormones from oral contraceptives, mostly passed in urine and faeces, with some coming from unneeded medication flushed down the toilet.

The council last Thursday issued a “question and answer” style information statement on the Leyburn contamination, in addition to the initial statement on Wednesday.

It described the test results as “unusual” but reiterated that the level of pharmaceuticals represented no threat to human health.

“Water Treatment Plant Operators collect the samples, Queensland Forensic and Scientific Services Lab analyse the results,” the statement said.

“Council has reported the findings to QHealth and the Department of Water and Energy Supply under the conditions of approval of the drinking water quality management plan as we were unsure of the significance of the result from a public health perspective.

“DEWS has stated that it is not a reportable incident and council is following the recommendations of QHealth.

“QHealth has advised a boil water advisory is not an appropriate response in this instance, and that the levels of pharmaceuticals in the water will not cause harm.

“Further testing has been carried out and the raw and treated water is free from E.coli, we also tested for cryptosporidium and giardia, and these were also not detected.

“SDRC is liaising regularly with QHealth.

“The water is considered safe.

“Investigations will continue to try to find the source. If this is not possible, consideration will be given to providing an additional treatment process for the bore water if this is deemed necessary.

“Various options will be considered depending on the outcome of investigations. However, as this investigation is the early stages, council has not yet finalised options.

“These options may include additional treatment processes or potentially the need for finding an alternative aquifer for supply.”