Old pipes may have caused NT water issue

There are no plans to lead-test residents of two town camps at remote Borroloola in the Northern Territory, even as a warning over their drinking water remains in place.

The Northern Territory Department of Health said the warning relates to water from bores supplying the Garawa 1 and 2 town camps, located 1056km south-east of Darwin and about 740km south east of Katherine.

“Borroloola’s water supply is unaffected and the water is safe to drink,” a spokesperson said.

“The ground water from the bore supplying Garawa does not contain elevated lead or manganese.

“The problem appears to be in the town camp’s internal reticulated supply.”

The spokesperson said the results of two separate rounds of water samples taken by the Power and Water Corporation for the NT Health Department were expected later this week and next week.

A “precautionary” warning remained in place and the Mabunji Aboriginal Resource Association was providing safe water to the town camps from a water tanker, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said there were no plans to test the 110 people living at Garawa 1 and 2.

“The risk is considered low, due to historical sampling results indicating that the community’s water supply was complying with Australia Drinking Water Guidelines,” the spokesperson said.

“Given the low risk, there are no plans to test for lead levels in residents.”

Notices from the NT Government were posted around the two town camps last month warning residents not to drink, cook or brush their teeth with the water, after routine testing returned elevated levels of lead and manganese.

NIT understands the problem may be confined to old pipe systems supplying a couple of the houses.

Last month, Gawara community leader Keith Rory told the ABC the community was very concerned and wanted blood tests.

Mining company Glencore said in a statement there were no indications the lead levels were related to its McArthur River zinc and lead mine.


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