NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner would be “happy” to drink Katherine’s contaminated water, he told reporters in Darwin yesterday.
Mr Gunner said on a recent visit to Katherine for the show and to open the new ambulance station he was happy to drink and shower in the town’s water.
“I can guarantee I was in Katherine the other day drinking the water and showering in it and cleaning my teeth in it, it’s good water,” he said yesterday.
He said his government was being overly cautious by imposing water restrictions from August 21.
They are believed to be the first water restrictions ever imposed in Australia based on PFAS fears.
Mr Gunner told the media he was happy to be filmed using the water in Katherine on his next visit.
His office today said the Chief Minister was expected to return later in the month.
The Katherine Times has compiled a full transcript of that press conference for readers and also provided the full audio recording.
Mr Gunner: Absolutely I was there the other day and I drank the water. What we are doing is making sure that water always remains safe to drink, so we wanted to be overly cautious. We know that September and October are high usage months and it goes from 10 megalitres a day up to 15 megalitres a day and we wanted to make sure that we got to the period September, October we thought gee I wish I put some water conservation measures in place. So this is us being overly cautious to make sure that water remains safe to drink in Katherine.
Reporter: Does it have a tourism impact here potential with all the negative publicity with PFAS?
Mr Gunner: Um, This is something we have to manage, it’s something I worry about, but I think what will be worse is if we didn’t do this and we got to a couple of days in September and October and suddenly we’re on bottled water. The water is safe to drink in Katherine and with our measures the water will remain safe to drink in Katherine and I think that’s important. You want tourists to come into Katherine, turn on the tap and have a cup of water, and we can do that with confidence. I’m happy for the next time I drink water in Katherine for it to be filmed. I can guarantee I was in Katherine the other day drinking the water and showering in it and cleaning my teeth in it, it’s good water.
Reporter: You’re not concerned of like, (garbled) of residents from Katherine and town, you know it’s your inland port plan are you concerned about the future of that?
Mr Gunner: No I’m not concerned, I believe that we are working well with the Federal Government, the Department of Defence Minister for Defence obviously put that water treatment plant in as well, So I think we are we are being cautious we are making those steps that are necessary to keep Katherine water safe which I think is really important. We are not worried about Katherine because we are taking these steps. We look at the residential restrictions, the conservation policies put in place we’re saying don’t water your driveway and only water your garden every second day. So these aren’t over the top, this is us just being cautious. Department of Defence turned off their sprinklers, we’ve turned off our sprinklers, the whole government’s turned off their sprinklers. It’s all about just making sure we keep the water demand down for the period of September and October where water usage is high, goes up to about 15 megalitres a day and it’s all about the mix of river to bore. We’re just being cautious and making sure everything stays safe.
Reporter: Could Defence be working a little bit quicker to resolve this issue and doing things like blood test to alleviate stress.
Mr Gunner: So we do want access to that fund so Katherine Residents that want to be tested, can be. I just think they should have that option because I think it would be reassuring for them, so we are talking with them about that. I think providing the water treatment plant has been a really positive step from Defence for Katherine and having that one megalitre a day treated is really important. So we want those tests absolutely.