Shoalhaven Water declares city’s water supply safe

Nowra's water supply comes from Bamarang Dam, located on Yalwal Road at Bamarang.
Nowra's water supply comes from Bamarang Dam, located on Yalwal Road at Bamarang.

SHOALHAVEN City Council has ruled out any risk to the city’s water supply after the Environment Protection Authority’s revelation that elevated levels of PFAS (per and poly fluoroalkyl) substances in the Shoalhaven River had come from local naval base HMAS Albatross.

The EPA named the naval base, which had historically used fire fighting foam which contain the chemicals, as one of the sources of the river contamination.

That being the case it would indicate the chemicals possibly made their way through various water courses to gain access to the river.

Council’s Water Operations and Maintenance Manager Andrew McVey said there was no danger to the city’s water supply.

“Bamarang Dam, located at Bamarang on Yalwal Road, is an off stream storage dam that is supplied from the Shoalhaven River at Burrier,” he said.

“The dam itself does not have a catchment and therefore cannot receive contaminated runoff originating from HMAS albatross.  

“The draw off point from Burrier is above the tidal limit of the Shoalhaven River and cannot be affected by HMAS Albatross.”

He said as the dam was isolated from the problem area council had not conducted water quality testing for PFOS/PFAS.

Mr McVey said while Flatrock Dam, just west of Nowra, was a Shoalhaven Water asset it was no longer used as a water supply and hadn’t been for more than 30 years.

“This dam does fall within the possible catchment of HMAS Albatross but we do not carry out any water quality testing on this dam as it is not used as a water supply,” he said.

Shoalhaven Water obtains untreated water largely from the Shoalhaven River, the catchment of which is managed by WaterNSW.

About 90 per cent of supply comes from this source supplemented by council’s own storages at Yalwal (Danjera Dam) and Porters Creek.

Water is treated at four water filtration plants to a standard that complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, with organic matter, sediment and minerals such as iron and manganese removed.

The water is disinfected with chlorine and fluoride is added in accordance with legislation.

The largest plant at Bamarang treats more than 60 per cent of the city’s water.

Shoalhaven Water completes water testing each day.