2000 – 2020: Bundarra (NSW) Boil Water Alert Turbidity, E.coli, Lead, Aluminium, Chlorine, Iron, Turbidity

Bundarra Water Supply – Boil Water Alert – 7 January 2020

Lifted 23/1/20

Problems with water treatment mean that drinking water in the Bundarra Water Supply is unsafe due to elevated levels of turbidity in the treated water.

Turbidity is a measure of suspended particles in water.

2000-2020 – Bundarra – (New South Wales) – E.coli

2000-2020: Bundarra (NSW) 200 MPN/100mL (max), 0.7194 (mean)

Various samples were collected throughout the Midge Point water mains during an air scour conducted from 4-10 February 2016. The air scour was conducted in response to the high
levels of manganese detected in the Midge Point reticulation system (see non-compliance above).

E.coli was detected in some of the water samples collected during the air scour. These results were not surprising considering that the chlorinator at the Midge Point Reservoir was offline during the majority of the air scour.

Further review of this non-compliance has revealed that the mains were in fact isolated during the air scour and therefore the water was not being supplied to the public and did not pose
a threat to public health. As such this non-compliance should not have been reported to the regulator and these results have not been included as part of the rolling 12 month annual E.coli
value calculated in accordance with the Public Health Regulation 2005.

The Midge Point Reservoir chlorinator was turned on towards the end of the air scour and water samples were taken to confirm compliance with ADWG health values before the mains
were reconnected and water supplied to the public.

“Coliforms are Gram-negative, non-spore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria that are capable of aerobic and facultative anaerobic growth in the presence of bile salts or other surface active agents with similar growth-inhibiting properties. They are found in large numbers in the faeces of humans and other warm-blooded animals, but many species also occur in the environment.

Thermotolerant coliforms are a sub-group of coliforms that are able to grow at 44.5 ± 0.2°C. E. coli is the most common thermotolerant coliform present in faeces and is regarded as the most specific indicator of recent faecal contamination because generally it is not capable of growth in the environment. In contrast, some other thermotolerant coliforms (including strains of Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Enterobacter) are able to grow in the environment and their presence is not necessarily related to faecal contamination. While tests for thermotolerant coliforms can be simpler than for E. coli, E. coli is considered a superior indicator for detecting faecal contamination…” ADWG 2011

Bundarra (NSW) Lead

2000-2020 – Bundarra (NSW) – Lead 0.025mg/L (max), 0.0029 (mean)

Lead Australian Drinking Water Guideline 0.01mg/L

“… Lead can be present in drinking water as a result of dissolution from natural sources, or from household plumbing systems containing lead. These may include lead in pipes, or in solder used to seal joints. The amount of lead dissolved will depend on a number of factors including pH, water hardness and the standing time of the water.

Lead is the most common of the heavy metals and is mined widely throughout the world. It is used in the production of lead acid batteries, solder, alloys, cable sheathing, paint pigments, rust inhibitors, ammunition, glazes and plastic stabilisers. The organo-lead compounds tetramethyl and tetraethyl lead are used extensively as anti-knock and lubricating compounds in gasoline…ADWG 2011

Bundarra (New South Wales) – Aluminium

2000-2020 – Bundarra (NSW) – Aluminium 0.76mg/L (max), 0.06 (mean)

Australian Guideline: Aluminium 0.2mg/L

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.

2000-2020: Bundarra- Chlorine

2000-2020: Bundarra (NSW) – Free Chlorine 7.6mg/L, 0.4914 mg/L

Chlorine dissociates in water to form free chlorine, which consists of aqueous molecular chlorine, hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. Chlorine and hypochlorites are toxic to microorganisms and are used extensively as disinfectants for drinking water supplies. Chlorine is also used to disinfect sewage and wastewater, swimming pool water, in-plant supplies, and industrial cooling water.

Chlorine has an odour threshold in drinking water of about 0.6 mg/L, but some people are particularly sensitive and can detect amounts as low as 0.2 mg/L. Water authorities may need to exceed the odour threshold value of 0.6 mg/L in order to maintain an effective disinfectant residual.

In the food industry, chlorine and hypochlorites are used for general sanitation and for odour control. Large amounts of chlorine are used in the production of industrial and domestic disinfectants and bleaches, and it is used in the synthesis of a large range of chemical compounds.

Free chlorine reacts with ammonia and certain nitrogen compounds to form combined chlorine. With ammonia, chlorine forms chloramines (monochloramine, dichloramine and nitrogen trichloride or trichloramine) (APHA 2012). Chloramines are used for disinfection but are weaker oxidising agents than free chlorine.

Free chlorine and combined chlorine may be present simultaneously (APHA 2012). The term totalchlorine refers to the sum of free chlorine and combined chlorine present in a sample.

Chlorine (Free) ADWG Guideline: 5mg/L (Chlorine in chloraminated supplies 4.1mg/L). Chlorine dissociates in water to form free chlorine, which consists of aqueous molecular chlorine, hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion.

Chlorine (Total) ADWG Guideline 5mg/L (chloraminated supplies 4.1mg/L): The term total chlorine refers to the sum of free chlorine and combined chlorine present in a sample

Bundarra (New South Wales) – Iron

2000-2020: Bundarra (New South Wales) – Iron 1.23mg/L (max), 0.133 (mean)

Based on aesthetic considerations (precipitation of iron from solution and taste),
the concentration of iron in drinking water should not exceed 0.3 mg/L.
No health-based guideline value has been set for iron.

Iron has a taste threshold of about 0.3 mg/L in water, and becomes objectionable above 3 mg/L. High iron concentrations give water an undesirable rust-brown appearance and can cause staining of laundry and plumbing fittings, fouling of ion-exchange softeners, and blockages in irrigation systems. Growths of iron bacteria, which concentrate iron, may cause taste and odour problems and lead to pipe restrictions, blockages and corrosion. ADWG 2011

Bundarra (New South Wales) Turbidity

2000/20: Bundarra (NSW) – Turbidity 7.8 NTU (max), 1.0033 NTU (mean)

Chlorine-resistant pathogen reduction: Where filtration alone is used as the water treatment
process to address identified risks from Cryptosporidium and Giardia, it is essential
that filtration is optimised and consequently the target for the turbidity of water leaving
individual filters should be less than 0.2 NTU, and should not exceed 0.5 NTU at any time
Disinfection: A turbidity of less than 1 NTU is desirable at the time of disinfection with
chlorine unless a higher value can be validated in a specific context.
Aesthetic: Based on aesthetic considerations, the turbidity should not exceed 5 NTU at the
consumer’s tap.

Bundarra (New South Wales) – Fluoride

2000-20: Bundarra (New South Wales) – Fluoride 1.55mg/L (max), 1.0639mg/L (mean)

From a total of 116 samples, there was one exceedance occurring 7 Feb 2012, with a fluoride concentration of 1.93 mg/L. Weekly fluoride monitoring performed by Council has detected 2 fluoride exceedances out of 680 samples.

“Fluoride occurs naturally in seawater (1.4 mg/L), soil (up to 300 parts per million) and air (from volcanic gases and industrial pollution). Naturally occurring fluoride concentrations in drinking water depend on the type of soil and rock through which the water drains. Generally, concentrations in surface water are relatively low (<0.1–0.5 mg/L), while water from deeper wells may have quite high concentrations (1–10 mg/L) if the rock formations are fluoride-rich.” 2011 ADWG. Health Guideline: 1.5mg/L