1988 – 1989: Dundurrabin Dam. Pesticides detected: Chlordane, Dieldrin, Heptachlor, Methoxychlor, Endosulfan, Aldrin, Lindane

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People in the tiny village of Dundurrabin near Dorrigo in NSW became concerned after noticing a change in their water quality and an increase in gastric illness among residents. They were aware of widespread clearing of native forest, upstream of the Dundurrabin Dam, and of the cultivation of pastures immediately beside the creek. These activities caused the formerly clear waters of the dam, and that of an upstream creek to become full of suspended sediment. The residents decided to get both water and sediment tested.

In December 1989, the first three water samples were taken. They came from the Dundurrabin Dam, a smaller dam upstream and a small rivulet known as Cockatoo Creek. The results of the tests showed each sample to be contaminated with OC pesticides at levels considerably in excess of the drinking water criteria. The Dundurrabin dam sample was the most polluted with levels approximately 100 times the limit for chlordane and dieldrin and 650 times for heptachlor. Methoxychlor and endosulfan were not found to exceed the drinking water criteria but, as with the other OCs detected, did exceed criteria for the protection of aquatic ecosystems. In February of the next year a further seven samples were taken from other small streams in the area, this time after heavy rain had fallen. All samples were found to contain the OC pesticides dieldrin, aldrin, lindane and heptachlor and the metabolite oxychlordane, with levels generally being relatively similar throughout…What the results do show is that there are persistent low levels of a number of OCs in the waterways of the Dundurrabin area. [Dr Ian Irvine. Investigation of the Dundurrabin Water Supply]

Parents in Dundurrabin have good reason to be worried about the quality of their drinking water. Seven out of 40 children at the local school have unexplained learning difficulties and there has been ongoing concern in the area about birth defects…. p87 Quick Poison Slow Poison. Pesticide Risk in the Lucky Country. Kate Short 1994