The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Department of Health and Water Corporation are advising Esperance residents their drinking water supply remains safe following the detection of very low levels of per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) during recent testing.
Water Corporation testing to date has detected very low levels of PFAS, well below the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), in three out of 31 groundwater bores that are used as a source of drinking water for Esperance. A fourth bore had PFAS detected at a level closer to the ADWG health value, and has been taken offline as a precaution.
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances are fluorine-containing chemicals which have been used since the 1950s in a range of common household products, hydraulic fluids and firefighting foams.
As a result of widespread use, PFAS are present in low levels in soils, surface water and groundwater in most urban areas around the world, including in Australia.
Richard Theobald, the Department of Health’s Managing Scientist Water Unit, has assured residents the Department of Health takes the quality of drinking water very seriously.
"Throughout Western Australia, there are a number of processes in place to ensure the safety of our drinking water," he said.
"Drinking water in Esperance, supplied through the Water Corporation, is regularly tested to ensure it meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and is safe to drink."
Rachael Miller Water Corporation’s Head of Water Quality said there was no interruption to the town water supply as a result of the PFAS detection.
"We first tested bores in the Esperance area in mid-February as part of a new statewide PFAS monitoring program." Mrs Miller said.
Mrs Miller said the Water Corporation would continue to monitor the Esperance Town Water Supply Scheme to ensure PFAS levels remained below the ADWG value.
Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) Director General Mike Rowe said he was asking for the community’s help with its groundwater investigation—to identify private bores and allow us access to take a water sample.
"As a precautionary measure the DWER will be testing private bores in parts of the suburbs of Nulsen and Sinclair starting next week," Mr Rowe said.
The sampling zone is bounded by Sims Street, Kalgoorlie Street, Harbour Road, Brazier Street, Jane Street, Coleman Street, Gull Street and Parsons Street.
"The samples will be analysed by an accredited laboratory. The results will help inform our investigation and will be shared with the bore owner/user.
"We want to ensure bore water in the area is safe for non-potable uses—like watering gardens."
Any home grown fruit or vegetables irrigated with bore water should always be washed before being eaten.
Private bore owners are reminded of Department of Health advice that untested and untreated bore water should never be used for drinking, food preparation or filling swimming pools, and children should not play under bore water sprinklers.
For all health related enquiries associated with PFAS please call Department of Health’s Environmental Health Directorate on 9222 6409.
For bore water testing contact the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation on the Contaminated Sites hotline: 1300 762 982
For all other water supply enquiries please contact Water Corporation on 13 13 75.
Water Corporation Media Line – 9420 2555
DWER Media Line – 0437228870
Department of Health Media Line – 9222 4333
Contact: Refer to statement for contacts