Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Nicole Beard filled her kettle with water from the kitchen tap… but not to make a cup of tea. She was preparing to bathe her babies.

After the water had warmed up, she waited for it to cool off and poured it into the baby bath.

It was the only way she felt safe bathing her children in the water that came out of the taps of her home at Narrandera in the New South Wales Riverina.

“It’s really disgusting because you do not want to put your kids into something like that,” she said.

“I would not put them in the rusty water because I do not know if it’s just a horrible thing that looks cosmetic or if there are things in there that are not good for you.”

About seven years later, the mother of four says not much has changed.

“When it’s really bad, it comes out like an orange rust, and it happens now and again,” Ms. Beard said.

A bathtub filled with brown water with a baby foot in the picture.
Mrs. Beard’s bath water is sometimes brown.(Delivered)

Families say water costs them ‘thousands’

Ms Beard said the water problem had cost her family thousands of dollars.

“We’ve had two washing machines in [past] 10 years, so that’s probably about $ 2,000 and all the clothes, which is another couple of thousand, ”she said.

“I’ve had to replace a lot of shower heads – the water just makes it all rusty and all the green and white rough stuff calcifies on the shower head from the water.”

The only filter she has, which is on the kitchen faucet, “helps the taste well”, but must be replaced regularly.

“The fitters clog very quickly from what they get out of the water,” she said.

A pair of white on socks and panties, which have become discolored brown.
Some people have to throw clothes out because it gets stained in the washing machine.(Delivered)

Council says water ‘is safe’

Narrandera Council’s Deputy Director of Infrastructure, Shane Wilson, said the water met safety guidelines.

“We could have broken the water main that allows some dirt to get into the pipeline, or it’s a remnant of the old pipes.”

A glass of discolored water sits in a window sill with a playground for children in the background.
A glass of water in Narrandera.(Delivered)

Narrandera’s water supply comes from four earth wells located along the edge of the Murrumbidgee River, which has been there for at least 20 years.

Wilson said several measures were in place to treat the drilling water and ensure it was safe to drink.

“We have inline tests in relation to chlorination and pH, and then we have had weekly necessary tests performed in a number of places.

“The council performs the test in accordance with the protocols of NSW Health, and then we send the samples to their laboratory for analysis.”

Sir. Wilson said that if the mandatory testing found that the water did not meet the required standards, the municipality would conduct the test again.

A river with trees on both sides.
The town’s water supply comes from earth boreholes at Narrandera near the Murrumbidgee River.(ABC Rural: Laurissa Smith)

Water plans in the mold

Wilson said the council took steps to improve water quality.

This included free customization of properties with whole home filters, with some replacement cartridges.

It also included high-pressure flushing of the pipes, which the council said it did sporadically and when complaints were lodged.

“We are currently launching a scoping investigation into the requirements for the new water filtration plant.”

He said there could be a price increase in water charges to cover a new treatment plant.

But Mr Wilson warned that these schemes would not be a silver bullet for everyone.

“As much as we can supply clean water to the property boundary, we still can not guarantee that the old properties around the city with 80-year-old interior water pipes will not still experience problems in the future,” he said.

dirty clothes in a washing machine
Sometimes, washed laundry looks dirtier than it did before going into the washing machine.(Delivered)

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