2023/24: Wagga Wagga drinking water bore. PFAS moving towards it

Has PFAS been detected in any of Riverina Water’s raw water sources? (Riverina Water Website. https://rwcc.nsw.gov.au/pfas)

One bore at West Wagga has detected 0.02 micrograms per litre (ug/L), which is slightly above lowest concentration that can be reliably reported of 0.01 ug/L.

The detection of 0.02 ug/L is well below the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (national (0.07 ug/L) and national health based guidance value for recreational water quality (2.0 ug/L).

Riverina Water has a multitude of other water sources, all of which have not had any recorded reading of PFAS. No single water source

Community update March 2024

The Department of Defence has finished construction on a new sentinel bore to monitor the movement of the PFAS plume towards Riverina Water’s East Wagga borefield, with the first test results finding that PFAS has not been detected.

Defence previously detected PFAS 650m from Riverina Water’s borefield, which indicated the plume may be moving at a faster rate than it first modelled. However, Defence’s initial sentinel bore was at a depth of around 25m, while Riverina Water’s East Wagga borefield is drawing water at a depth of around 63m.

The new negative results mean that while the PFAS issue originating from the RAAF Base is an ongoing concern, the rate of the plume’s spread may not have been as rapid as the initial sentinel bore test results suggested.

Defence will continue to monitor the results of its sentinel bores.

PFAS has not been detected in any of Riverina Water’s East Wagga bores at any point.

Riverina Water will continue to provide safe and reliable drinking water within the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Town’s water ‘safe’ after toxic chemical discovery


October 25 2023 Stepanie Gardiner

Residents in a NSW regional town are being told their water is safe to drink, after toxic “forever chemicals” were found near the local supply decades before their expected spread from a military base.

The defence department said low levels of PFAS were found in two groundwater monitoring wells 650 metres away from the East Wagga bore field, part of Wagga Wagga’s water supply.

The local water utility said it tested all of its sources and found no traces of the toxic chemicals, once used in firefighting foam, in the town supply.

“It is important to note there is no cause for alarm, or risk to your health,” Riverina Water chief executive Andrew Crakanthorp said in a statement this week.

A 2018 Defence investigation of PFAS contamination at RAAF Base Wagga found the chemicals in soil and water near former fire training grounds.

Its modelling suggested the chemicals would not reach the town’s water supply bores for at least 50 years.

Despite the discovery, defence also reassured Wagga residents.

“While these results suggest the PFAS plume from RAAF Base Wagga is moving faster than originally predicted, defence can confirm there is no short-term risk of PFAS contamination to the bore field and the water is safe to drink,” it said in a public notice.

Low levels of the chemicals were also found in a West Wagga bore, which has been out of recent production and isolated from the supply, Riverina Water said.

That result is being investigated.

The member for Wagga Wagga, Joe McGirr, has written to the state water and environment ministers, urging them to prioritise the safety of the town’s supply.

PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” are very slow to break down. They were phased out in 2004 after their damaging effects on human health were discovered.

Thousands of landowners whose properties were contaminated by the toxic firefighting foam used on air force bases secured a $132.7 million payout in May.

The agreement covered sites near the RAAF base at Wagga, as well as Richmond in NSW, Bullsbrook in WA, Darwin, Edinburgh in SA, Townsville in Queensland and Wodonga in Victoria.