If the residents of Young want answers about the presence of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the town’s water supply last week, there’s no straight answer coming from Hilltops Council.
Council has remained tight-lipped about the source of the contamination, which led to a boil-water alert that sent residents scurrying to supermarket shelves to stock up on water on the afternoon of Friday, 12 February.
The precautionary alert was triggered around 2:30 pm after a sample from Young’s water supply returned positive E. Coli results.
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines say E. coli is the most reliable and specific indicator of recent faecal contamination in drinking water.
While residents waited and wondered when they last drank water from a tap, council was busily conducting tests, which have been ongoing and involve extensive sampling, flushing and retesting of the water supply.
At around 7.30 pm on Saturday, 13 February, 29 hours on from the initial alert, it was the new bush telegraph – mobile phones – that relayed the glad tidings the alert had been lifted.
Council, working in close cooperation with NSW Health, said a review of several samples tested by an independent accredited laboratory had shown the town’s water was safe for consumption.
“All results have indicated the water quality is safe for drinking,” said a spokesperson. “Council is satisfied there is no public health risk to the Young water supply system users.”
The rigorous testing indicated the source of the bacteria was isolated.
Council said it would continue to monitor the network daily as part of its standard operating procedures, and does not anticipate any further abnormal results or disruption to water supply.
“The safety of our community is our highest priority, and we thank the community for their cooperation during this period and apologise for any inconvenience caused,” said the spokesperson.
In a statement to Region Media, council reiterated “a single point in the reticulation was identified as a point of concern”.
“This identified point did not impact on the rest of the reticulation, or water network, and did not compromise the water quality in the Young water supply as sufficient backflow prevention was in place at this identified point which means the water could not enter the supply network,” read the statement.
“The boil-alert was issued as a precautionary measure while appropriate testing of the entire reticulation system took place.”
Council did not respond to questions in relation to the specific source of the contamination, or if it was related to flooding, water mains cleaning, a pipe breakage or any other water network incident.
Goldenfields County Council Water provides all water to the town of Young, which is supplied to several reservoirs and then distributed to the community.
Hilltops Council is represented on the Goldenfields board by councillors Matt Stadtmiller and Greg Armstrong.