Brown water just a fact of life

Discoloured brown water will continue to flow through the taps of Yass households until the dam wall upgrade is complete, says council.

Laidlaw Street resident Gayle Buttrose said when she noticed the grotty-looking water on the weekend of February 9 and 10, she thought the reason might be a problem with her domestic pipes.

But when the discoloured water returned the following weekend, she collected a sample and asked some friends if they had been having the same problem.

“I saw a friend and she’d had the same thing happening, so then I realised it wasn’t just me,” she said.

She and her husband regularly drink town water but only after filtering it at home.

“We do drink the water but we have a filtration system so we put it through that first to try and get the nasties out. But this didn’t look like you should drink it!”

It was a brownish yellow colour.

“I was thinking of weather events that might have increased the turbidity in the water, but I don’t think there was anything like that happening then.”

She feels aggrieved she is paying high water rates for sub-optimal water quality.

“I don’t mind paying for water but as long as it is sound [quality].”

“I don’t want second-rate water when I’m paying premium rates.”

Shaw Street resident Judy Pinder said she had noticed discoloured water which left sediment residue on a regular basis. She assumes it is caused by the dam works.

“I’m just glad I’ve got a tap filter…. It seems to me (and I’m not a plumber) that sediment settles in the pipes. The first few seconds of water comes out brown, then it clears up again.”

Director of council operations Simon Cassidy said council had received a number of complaints about the look of the water in recent months.

“The discoloured water is related to water being drawn off at lower levels in the dam due to the dam construction work,” he said.

“Water from these lower levels has a higher iron and manganese content which can lead to discolouration of the water supply.”

He said there were no adverse health effects and the quality of the water is monitored to ensure it meets the requirements of the NSW Department of Health and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

“Consumers need to be aware that until the dam upgrade is completed there may be periodic occurrences of discoloured water. The water remains perfectly safe to drink, however residents should contact council if they encounter any 'dirty water'.”

Staff would flush the water mains in that area to alleviate the problem. 

He said when the dam upgrade is finished the water quality will be improved with an upgraded outlet structure and the installation of an aeration system within the dam.

Nine months ago Gunning scored $4.3 million from the state government to build a treatment plant after its water turned brown and a boil water alert was issued.

Meanwhile, Yass residents continue to bear the full cost of the dam wall upgrade through increased water rates, caused by a lack of state or federal government funding.

Mr Cassidy said once complete, council would look at the feasibility of quality improvements such as 'water softening'.

“The dam is on track to be completed mid-to-late April. There have been significant delays associated with rain and high river flows but the contractor has otherwise been able to keep the project on track,” he said.

There will be an official opening with a public tour of the dam on a date to be fixed.

Gayle Buttrose with a bottle of the "icky" water that came out of her kitchen tap recently. Photo: Karan Gabriel.

Gayle Buttrose with a bottle of the "icky" water that came out of her kitchen tap recently. Photo: Karan Gabriel.


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