Katherine Town Council’s continued use of bore to irrigate public parks and sports grounds has caused concern to a Federal Government PFAS inquiry.
The Joint Standing Committee’s PFAS investigation this week singled out Katherine for its continued use of bore water on public grounds.
The committee heard evidence in Katherine in July.
“During the inquiry, the committee noted varying practices regarding the extent of the use of contaminated bore water for irrigation purposes,” its report said.
“While all three sites visited by the committee had precautionary advice in place recommending against the drinking of bore water in the most affected areas, bore water is still being used by local government in at least one area (Katherine) for watering parks and sports fields, and there do not appear to be any restrictions placed on the use of private bores by state and territory regulatory authorities at any site.
“The committee recognises that any restrictions on the use of bore water would be a state and territory responsibility, and that the need for restrictions may vary from site to site.
“However, the committee was not assured that sufficient consideration has been given as to the extent to which unrestricted use of bore water is contributing to the spread of PFAS contamination to areas that would otherwise by unaffected.
“The lack of restrictions may also contribute to unanticipated exposure pathways, for example, by children playing under or even drinking from sprinklers. The committee recommends that this matter be given further consideration at a national level.”
Responding to the committee’s advice, council today said its focus has been on the priority drinking water pathways which pose more potential risk to human health through ingestion.
“We have been advocating for filtration systems that will remove contamination at the source,” a council spokeswoman said.
“However, as council are not PFAS subject matter experts we have been working with the Department of Health throughout this period and we rely on their expertise to guide our ongoing irrigation practices.”
The spokeswoman said council was increasingly reducing the irrigation cycles around town to not only comply with water restrictions but to take into account that the rains have started and our greenspaces no longer require the amount of irrigation support needed during the dry.
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