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Salty water leaves country town short

Wednesday March 6, 2013 - 12:27 EDT
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Hard to find anything drinkable, said locals - ABC

Residents of Orroroo, in the north of South Australia, say they are running low on rainwater.

The town of more than 500 residents has bore water but it is so saline it can corrode pipes.

SA Water has classified the supply as potable, but chairman of Orroroo Carrieton Council Colin Parkyn said the town desperately needed a desalination plant.

"We've had numerous meetings with SA Water and, as you would understand, it's always at the end of the day it's the money involved, budget constraints," he said.

"I suppose around the area there are other towns too that have a very similar problem."

The council has developed a business case for a desalination plant, which Mr Parkyn said is backed by evidence the water in the area does not meet Australian drinking water guidelines.

"The argument that we have is the South Australian safe drinking act states 'Access to reliable supplies of good quality drinking water is a basic human right and a fundamental requirement for community wellbeing'. Well, we definitely haven't got that," he said.

Mr Parkyn said the drinking water guidelines said anything over 1000mg of mineral salts per litre was unacceptable, but tests on the community bore water showed there were saline levels of up to 2000mg per litre.

"Some of the bores on the farms are quite good but the problem is, here, the deeper you go to get the quantity of the water, the quality reduces," he said.

"Some of the smaller shallow bores at 60-odd feet are quite good, but to get any quantity you have to go deeper and that's when the salinity problem becomes worse."

Orroroo residents said a chlorination plant was put in two years ago to try make the water adequate for human consumption, but it had failed to fix the salinity issue.

They said even getting grass to grow on the town oval was challenging due to the saltiness of the water.

- Additional reporting by Eloise Fuss


© ABC 2013

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