2018 May – Geelong (Victoria) – Water Fountains Containing Lead

Geelong water fountains shut off after high lead levels detected

Authorities say Geelong’s water supply is safe, despite high levels of lead being detected in the council’s public drinking fountains.

The City of Greater Geelong shut off 30 water bubblers and more than 140 are being tested across the municipality to determine the cause of the contamination, but the problem is confined to the fountains and not the wider water supply.

The elevated lead levels were discovered in March following testing of a random sample of drinking fountains.

It is not known how long the fountains have breached national guidelines.

Testing will continue but early indications are the affected fountains are those which are infrequently used, meaning water sits in the taps for extended periods of time.

“It appears that some of the parts that make up the tapware may be the cause,” Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood said.

“We are looking into that at the moment and there’ll be due diligence done about replacement of those (fountains) and also further monitoring.”

Water quality manager for Barwon Water, Dr Will Buchanan, said there was no issue with the water supply.

“We’ve got a rigorous monitoring program which maintains the quality of the water supplied,” he said.

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Angie Bone said people should not be worried, even if they had consumed water from the affected fountains.

“While the levels detected in some of the fountains are above the health guideline value in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, they are not of immediate concern as drinking fountains are not the main source of drinking water,” Dr Bone said.

Department of Health and Human Services figures show of more than 300 cases of elevated blood-lead levels since 2010, only nine patients were from the Geelong region.

Full results are expected in the coming weeks and the council has started a program of flushing all drinking fountains that are still in operation.

“Use the fountains by all means, but give them a bit of a flush before you drink,” Cr Harwood said.