LEAD levels in regional Tasmanian drinking water have been labelled the worst in Australia by a Macquarie University researcher.
Macquarie Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences PhD student Paul Harvey said he was ‘‘disgusted’’ by the lack of speed at which the state was dealing with its contamination issues.
‘‘It’s the worst I’ve seen in Australia for years,’’ Mr Harvey said, ‘‘in terms of years of exposure, the response to an incident, in regards to exposure thresholds and the concentrations of lead in water I detected.’’
Mr Harvey said infrastructure in some areas dated back to the early 1900s, containing lead joins and – in the case of the Ringarooma Power Station – suspected lead piping.
He will release a report into water supplies and infrastructure at Pioneer, Ringarooma and Gladstone areas during a public meeting at Ringarooma on April 21.
TasWater works delivery general manager Dharma Dharmabalan said a trial had begun to remove lead from water at Winnaleah, which was placed on ‘‘do not consume’’ status in November.
Winnaleah is one of five towns to hold a ‘‘do not consume’’ status for its water, while 22 more are on boil alerts.
‘‘The trial centres on a mobile nanofiltration membrane plant and is the first time TasWater has examined the use of such a facility,’’ Dr Dharmabalan said.
‘‘By 2018, we expect to have addressed water quality in 19 of these (27) towns, with the remaining to follow.’’
Others on ‘‘do not consume’’ include Avoca, Pioneer, Rossarden and Whitemark.
Mr Harvey said there was no way of telling how long communities had been consuming contaminated water.
He said the only records he could access were TasWater releases, ‘‘which in itself came a good couple of months after detection’’.
‘‘They seem to have misplaced data by the look of it – I’m not sure what was going on prior to then,’’ Mr Harvey said.
Mr Harvey said he was unable to provide a detailed explanation of his report before its publication in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research journal.
‘‘Essentially, it’s sensitive with water companies and councils,’’ he said.