Boil water alert prompts Dubbo Regional Council to take ongoing action

Extra surveillance, more cleaning and potentially troublesome trees taken out.

In the year since the water contamination that put part of the city on alert for more than a week, Dubbo Regional Council has been ramping up its efforts to protect the service.

Birds were found to be the source of E. coli contamination of the Myall Street reservoir in November last year.

This week the council told of the actions it had taken to guard against a repeat of the event, in response to an inquiry from the Daily Liberal.

Council infrastructure and operations director Chris Devitt said the council had completed necessary works that were identified in relation to the boil water incident in 2016.

“As outlined in the incident debrief which went to council following the incident last year, the recommendations identified as being the responsibility of council have been addressed, many of which will be ongoing,” he said.

The council has moved to make the surrounds of the asset less inviting to the roosting sparrow culprits of last year.

“A number of trees were removed at the Myall street Reservoir and additional reservoir cameras have been installed to monitor bird activity,” Mr Devitt said.

Cleaning and rectification work have also been a priority across the city.

“All Dubbo reservoirs have been cleaned internally, with Chlorine monitoring equipment installed across the reticulation network and chlorine residuals monitored weekly,” Mr Devitt said.

“Also, current reservoir sealing rectification work is in progress.

“All of these actions have been taken to reduce the likelihood of another contamination event taking place, and Council will continue to monitor the city’s water supply system  to ensure it meets appropriate water quality standards on an ongoing basis.”

Late morning on November 7, 2016 the council issued a boil water alert for a large part of Dubbo’s north, central and south areas, explaining the water was not safe to drink and may cause disease.

It affected about 3300 properties, including hundreds of businesses.

Cafes and hotels were among those that had to either boil water or buy it to provide for their customers.

Bottled water flew off the shelves at supermarkets across the city as residents rushed to stock up.

Customers were seen piling bottles into their trolleys and supermarkets brought in extra stocks to meet the demand.

Some cafes reduced their hours of operation, while one fast-food retailer closed its doors altogether until the central and south sections of the city were cleared three days later.

North Dubbo remained subject to the boil water alert and evidence of birdlife was found at the Myall Street reservoir.

After investigations, treatment and testing residents were given the all-clear to use the water on November 15.