2018 April – Proserpine Drinking Water (Queensland) – PFOS

Proserpine

https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/disasters/investigation-pfas/sites/proserpine

Summary

The Queensland Government is working with the Whitsunday Regional Council in response to a low-level PFAS detection in a bore near the Proserpine Showgrounds.

Proserpine’s town water remains safe and there is no reason for community concern.

Background

Testing undertaken by Queensland Health and the Whitsunday Regional Council in April 2018 confirmed that residents are being supplied with drinking water that complies with Australian Guidelines.

The testing identified a single groundwater bore adjacent to the Proserpine Showgrounds that contained PFAS slightly above drinking water criteria, returning a result for PFOS of 0.08 micrograms per litre (ug/L), slightly exceeding the drinking water criteria of 0.07 ug/L.

Whitsunday Regional Council immediately disconnected the bore from the water supply.

Testing subsequently carried out by Queensland Health and the Whitsunday Regional Council showed no quality issues with water being supplied to Proserpine residents.

As the affected bore was one of a number that supplied town water, the water containing PFAS was mixed with, and significantly diluted by other bore water and residents would not have been exposed to drinking water above PFAS guidelines at any time.

DES understands that testing at three other drinking water supply bores along the Proserpine River did not detect any PFAS.

Government response

While there is no identified risk to health associated with these findings, the Queensland Government has worked with Council to undertake further environmental testing around Proserpine to better understand the presence of PFAS in the local environment.

In addition to the bore near the Proserpine Showgrounds, 23 groundwater bores were tested and all samples returned to date were well within the relevant health based guideline values.

Eight stormwater drainage locations were also tested and returned PFAS results below drinking water criteria while surface water sampling in the Proserpine River and Lagoon Creek did not detect any PFAS. These results mean that the community is not at risk.

The Queensland Government and Council have undertaken direct engagement with residents within the vicinity of the original detection of PFAS. Groundwater use surveys, and sampling and analysis of private groundwater bores, have been conducted to ensure the protection of the community against exposure to potential chemicals in groundwater.

The results of the analysis of private bores showed no results of concern, however Queensland Health recommends that people in urban areas use the public drinking water supply for drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene (including cleaning teeth/oral hygiene and bathing. This is because it is filtered and disinfected, and the quality of public water supplies is regularly monitored.

In general, bore water from urban areas should not be used unless testing has been done to assess the microbiological and chemical quality of the water as it is more likely to be contaminated by human activities.

Investigations to date have not conclusively identified the source of the contamination.

Further information

For any enquiries regarding the town water supply, please contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on 1300 WRC QLD (1300 972 753).

General information about PFAS is available here.

Anyone concerned about their own health or that of family members should talk to their GP or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).