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Water concerns start a donation drive

Tuesday, 13th January, 2015

Larry Angell is asking Broken Hill residents to deliver water to his house at 228 Duff Street as part of a campaign aimed at helping Wilcannia residents. Larry Angell is asking Broken Hill residents to deliver water to his house at 228 Duff Street as part of a campaign aimed at helping Wilcannia residents.

By Erica Visser

A two-day-old campaign to deliver free bottled water to Wilcannia residents has quickly gained momentum, but Central Darling Shire Council says it is totally unnecessary.

Duff Street resident Larry Angell called on BH residents to donate cartons of 600 mL bottles or casked water which would be delivered to the town on Tuesday next week.

The drive follows concerns from State Labor candidate Craig Ashby, a Wilcannia resident, that the water was undrinkable and making locals sick. 

“People are pulling me up on the street to mention their concerns with the water,” Mr Ashby told the BDT.

“There is a need to get fresh water out here to people. It’s the young and the old drinking it because they have no other option.”

Central Darling Shire general manager Michael Boyd said that claims the water was undrinkable were false.

“We have the water tested in two different ways. One is a six-monthly check that is done by the Department of Health in Sydney, that’s a chemistry analysis,” he said.

“We also do a weekly microbiology water sampling that looks at things like e-coli.

“That’s done on a weekly basis and if there’s anything that needs adjusting we do that.

“We’ve had no formal complaints at all in relation to the water either directly or through the hospital.

“To us it’s not an issue that requires addressing ... It comes out of my tap every day, I shower in it every day and I’ve never had a problem.”

Mr Ashby said that there must have been “something they missed” in the tests as the water was yellow coloured and people had been prone to bouts of diarrhoea.

Mr Angell said he had no doubt that the Council was meeting the appropriate standards for water, but it was more about taste.

“As the weather gets hotter water does develop a horrible taste. The problem they have in Wilcannia is bottled water or container water costs four times as much as in Broken Hill,” he said.

“We’re not saying it’s bad water; we’re just saying the taste isn’t brilliant.”

Mr Angell said that speculation of Mr Ashby’s involvement in the campaign was linked with his political motives was not relevant.

“It could well be but then Craig is in a leadership role so he is in the small minority that is prepared to stand up for the majority.”

Mr Angell said he decided to start to campaign to do something 

positive, with plans to extend it to towns such as Pooncarie, Tilpa and Louth if successful.

“I just thought this was a good way to show that we’re doing something more proactive to work with smaller communities. 

“I’m amazed by the generosity shown by Broken Hill people so far. I have 46 cartons of 600mL bottles and 15 cartons of 10 litre casks - that’s enough to do 57 families.

“We’d hope for 150 by Monday next week. People can drop them straight to my house at 228 Duff Street and if I’m not home, leave them on the veranda.”

Broken Hill resident Cindy Crane, who grew up in Wilcannia, said that she was shocked at the poor quality of the water when she returned to the town in December last year.

“The water has always been bad but it’s worse now. I got sick when I was down there,” Ms Crane said.

“I noticed most peo-ple living in Wilcannia also have no teeth or really damaged teeth due to water issues and living off soft drinks because the water is so unsafe.”

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