Council keen to clear up concerns

Blackwater residents have voiced their concerns through social media sites such as Facebook.
Blackwater residents have voiced their concerns through social media sites such as Facebook.

IT may be a little brown and salty but it is safe to drink according to the Central Highlands Regional Council.

The water supply in townships from Comet to Dingo has been plagued by reports of discolouration and high levels of sodium.

Residents have been voicing their concerns through social media sites such as Facebook, with some claiming the water is not even safe to bathe in, let alone drink.

"My six-year-old son had a skin issue for a month - it kept spreading and getting infected," one local mum wrote on the Facebook page Blackwater Water.

"After two doctors' visits and a second course of antibiotics I decided to bath him in bottled water. Within four days the infection had stopped and cleared."

However, all tests undertaken by the council in the past six months reveal the water complies with the Australian Drinking Standards.

Deputy Mayor Paul Bell was quick to quell fears the town's water supply was contaminated, stressing that extensive testing undertaken both at the water's source and at the tap reveal there is no cause for alarm.

"It's very safe to drink," Cr Bell said.

"We're testing not just at the plant but in households as well."

A flyer distributed to Blackwater residents last week outlined how testing was conducted weekly for bacterial content levels in addition to monthly tests to examine other levels such as hardness and sodium.

Cr Bell said while staff were trying to eliminate all the unwanted elements, some, such as sodium, were more difficult to manage than others.

"The water is high in sodium but not nearly as high as after the 2008 flood event and still well within the levels," he said.

"It just needs a good flush out... it all helps."

The council's leaflet said residents would have to consume at least two litres of water from the current supply to equal the same amount of salt in one slice of Vegemite on toast.

Woolworths Blackwater store manager Michael Lee said while the demand for bottled water was strong, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary in the current climate.

"We can't keep it on the shelves anyway," Mr Lee said.

"It's just the summer heat."

It's not just the water's quality which has the residents concerned, with inadequate pressure also an ongoing problem.

Work is now under way on repairing faulty valves to improve pressure, together with a water main replacement program to begin in 2012.

Voice of the people

"We have only been here a year and are completely disgusted at the water quality in this town. Not only does the water look bad, it tastes bad, leaves white stains and there is no pressure..."

"If they want families to remain in this town, they need to fix the problem. I don't want to raise my baby on this water."

"I paid over $500 in rates for water that is below standard. Thanks for offering your help..."

"Due to water discolouration, told to let the water run for a few minutes, does that mean we are going to get discounts on our water rates?"

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