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What it's like living in Murrurundi, a town with no water

By Andy Park, Monday September 30, 2019 - 17:46 EST
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The Hussein family are buying bottled water because they say the town water smells like chlorine. - ABC

Six months after Murrurundi's water ran out, the New South Wales Upper Hunter community struggles to survive on extreme, level-six water restrictions, in a grim prediction of the future for other country towns facing their own impending water crisis as the drought continues.

Every day, Murrurundi's water supply must be carted in via a convoy of water trucks from Scone, a costly exercise for the local council.

But residents told 7.30 they did not drink the supplied town water, and were mulling over their future in the town if nothing improved after the council's pipeline comes online in 2020.

Stacey Hussain and her family, including three children, told 7.30 she may have to consider leaving the town she grew up in.

"I have actually thought of that. That is a possibility," she said.

The family don't drink the town water, instead buying bottled water.

"We, as a family, decided not to because of the strong chlorine smell of it, so that's why we have bottled water," Ms Hussien said.

"But it would be great if we could turn the tap and get a glass of water."

Water 'undrinkable'

Juls Cross, publican at the Royal Hotel, says the water leaves calcium marks on his glassware.

"That's just what they put in the water to deliver it to us, which is undrinkable. I mean the shire says it is. It's not," he said.

"There's no way I'd give it to anyone, even my worst enemy."

He said it was challenging to run a business reliant on presentation, because you "just have to let things go" like cleaning and gardening.

"[Water restrictions] changed everything," Mr Cross said.

"When we first got here, there was water in the river, it looked amazing. Now it's just a pile of rocks. It's just that everyone has had to adapt."

Builder Justin Curran is renovating the Cobb and Co stables situated behind the Royal Hotel, in an effort to rejuvenate an events business for the pub.

He said the dryness had cracked a stone wall, which dates back to 1863.

"It's directly related to the drought. The drier it gets, the more the crack opens," Mr Curran told 7.30.

Phillip Hood, water and sewer manager for Upper Hunter Council, defended the water quality, saying the complaints were "mostly historical".

"The water at the moment is fine — it definitely meets all the drinking water guidelines," Mr Hood told 7.30.

His council is building a pipeline from Scone to Murrurundi with funds from a NSW State Government grant. But he agreed climate change was the elephant in the room.

"It is a big concern for council," Mr Hood said.

"In fact, in February it was adopted to recognise climate change as an emergency."

Watch this story tonight on 7.30.


© ABC 2019

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