For the first time since 2020, Walgett will no longer solely rely on salty bore water as its main water source with the town taking the first steps towards switching to river water.
Minister for Water Rose Jackson said she was thrilled to hear council has begun transitioning the water treatment plant back to the Namoi River, which would improve the taste and quality of town water over the coming days.
“This is such great news. The residents of Walgett deserve to have access to clean, drinkable and palatable water like other communities around the state,” Ms Jackson said.
“We’ve started today but switching the plant to river water is a complex process that takes time, which is why it will be happening in stages over the next week.
“It has been three years since the Namoi River was used as the town’s main water supply and it will take a while for the salty bore water to be flushed out of the water network and for residents to notice a difference in the taste of their water.
“It has taken far too long for the switch over to happen, and it will still take some time for the treated river water to flush through the system to people’s taps. But this is significant progress.”
“The great news is we have experienced water operators from my department on the ground supporting Walgett Council staff and overseeing the transition to help troubleshoot if there are any issues.
“I want to specifically make a shout out to the engineers and plant staff at Walgett Council and Department of Planning and Environment - Water who made this possible – these frontline workers keep our state working and we owe them so much.”
“I also want to thank the community for their patience and understanding while we perfect the treatment process.”
“As we transition over to river water, we will be closely monitoring water quality and will immediately update the community if anything changes.”
Minister Jackson travelled to Walgett last Friday to meet residents face-to-face and to discuss their concerns and ways to address them.
“I recognise the community has been waiting an unacceptably long time to have their water issues resolved, but I am pleased that I was able to sit down with residents in-person to hear their side of the story,” Ms Jackson said.
“More importantly, that I was able to fast-track work on the ground that will enable them to have access to cleaner, more palatable drinkable water within days.
“I taste-tested the bore water and it was difficult to drink because of the sodium levels, even though it is safe and technically meets Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
“The reality is the bores were never designed to be used for long-term water supply. They were installed in the state’s worst drought to be used in times of emergency.
“The reverse osmosis plant, which removes sodium and softens the bore water, will be reinstated mid-year to address the salty taste if the bores are needed in the future.
“Furthermore, NSW Health carried out water testing on 27 April to address community concerns about pesticides in the river and I can confirm that pesticides were not detected in the water.
“Council will continue to carry out regular testing for pesticides until the end of June to give residents peace of mind and to help with the transition to river water. Council will also continue their regular testing of drinking water supplies to ensure they comply with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.”