More than 100,000 litres of drinking water has been donated to communities along the Darling River, as complaints about the quality of mains water supply rise.
Twenty volunteers drove from Adelaide, Griffith, Moama and Ballarat to the far west New South Wales town of Menindee on the weekend, to deliver water donated by various businesses and purchased with money raised in an online campaign.
Mal Highet, who organised the bulk of the delivery, said he was moved to do something when he heard reports of bad drinking water in the town.
“I heard about it and I just had a thought ‘What can I do to help?’ and this is what I came up with,” he said.
“People from Griffith and Ballarat all had the same idea too and we ended up with a whole lot of water.
“It’s all come from hard-working Aussies, not an ounce of help from the government.
“The whole idea is to keep it going as long as they need.”
Robyn Graham and her husband drove from Moama, more than 600 kilometres away, to deliver 80,000 litres of donated water.
“How people could not have water in Australia, drinking water, we had to do something about it,” she said.
“The children of Menindee haven’t got water to wash themselves.
“I was speaking with one mother and she gives her children [bottled water] just to wash their bodies and then they distribute the drinking water.
“Until the government or someone steps in, we’re going to have to do this again to support them.”
Water donations have also been delivered to Wilcannia, Walgett and Pooncarie.
Council says water is safe
Town water supply comes from several different locations for the towns depending on the quality available.
At present Menindee’s water is coming from nearby lake Copi Hollow, Wilcannia is being supplied by two bores and White Cliffs’ water comes from several dams in the vicinity.
Greg Hill, general manager of the Central Darling Shire Council which is responsible for water quality in the towns of Menindee, Wilcannia and White Cliffs, said he was confident the water meets international drinking standards.
“Unfortunately there’s a taste to it. We can’t help that [but] it’s still meeting Australian and world standards for drinking,” he said.
Menindee’s water supply is treated by Essential Water, which has insisted the quality of water coming from its treatment plants is up to international standards.
60 days of water left
It is not just the quality of water concerning residents in far west communities; there are fears some communities may soon run out of a local supply altogether.
Mr Hill said White Cliffs had just two months’ supply left in its dams.
“White Cliffs is getting in to a pretty dire situation. We reckon there’s about 60 days of water out there,” he said.
Once they run out, the council expects it will have to cart water more than 500 kilometres from Ivanhoe.