Water complaints pouring in

Busselton Dunsborough Times

Busselton Water Board has responded to more than 70 complaints relating to taste, odour and discoloured water since it commissioned the first water chlorine plant two weeks ago.

Chief executive Keith White said officers had investigated all concerns and, with two of the three plants online, a calibration period was still occurring to ensure the entire network was brought up to the required rate.

“Of all testing undertaken only a handful of samples have indicated a reading greater than 0.5 mg/l which is the least amount needed in the network for public safety,” he said.

“Chlorine in terms of odour and taste is more discernible when it is not at the optimum levels, between 0.2 and 0.6mg/l. Above and below these levels can cause more noticeable effects.”

He said chlorine was added to the supply on Friday, April 18, but some complaints were received on April 16, the due date for the commissioning.

Health, lifestyle and convenience issues associated with chlorination of the Busselton water supply have been raised by the public in the past fortnight.

Mr White urged people with concerns about health to contact the Department of Health or their GP for advice.

A Facebook group has been formed to invite feedback and has captured concerns about throat and sinus problems, people refusing to drink the water, costs of buying bottled water or purifiers, and a call for independent testing of the levels.

Thomas Road resident Sian Bjerking told the Times she had concerns bathing her son Harley in discoloured water at the end of last week.

She said Harley had eczema and believed the skin condition had flared up after contact with the water.

She has now started additional moisturising of her son’s skin and had added oil to the water to help soften his skin.

Mr White said the discoloured water was caused by biofilm inside pipes dying and coming away form the pipes when the chlorine was introduced.

“This is normal and is not a health risk but it is not recommended to drink discoloured water,” Mr White said.

Provence resident Kristy Dodd told the Times her daughters, aged 7 and 9, developed migraines and itchy, burning eyes after showering and her son, 12, complained of nausea from the smell.

After contacting Busselton Water, Mrs Dodd said an officer tested the chlorine level and told her it registered 0.12mg/l, well below the intended residual of 0.5mg/l, which was expected given the area’s location at the end of the circuit.

She was concerned about what it could mean for people “further along the line” where levels were stronger, if her children felt unwell from exposure to a low concentration.

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