2009/16: Ayr/Brandon Drinking Water (Queensland): Atrazine, Metolachlor, DEET

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Ayr/Brandon Drinking Water

2014/15: Ayr/Brandon Metolachlor: 0.4ug/L (max), 0.4ug/L (average)

2015/16: Ayr/Brandon DEET: 0.2ug/L (max), 0.2ug/L (average)

Source: Drinking Water Quality Management Plans 2014-15, 2015-16

Herbicide in drinking water ‘safe’

The Burdekin Shire Council says it does have traces of the farm chemical Atrazine in its town water supply, but well below safe drinking guidelines.

The Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (ACTFR) says Atrazine has been found in large quantities in north Queensland rivers and poses a public health risk because it has polluted town water supplies.

The chemical is used by cane farmers to control weeds and is also a known carcinogen.

Burdekin Mayor Lyn McLaughlin says the town water supply is tested at least once a year and the levels are a fraction of those set down under the Australian guidelines for drinking water.

She says one of the main roles of local government is to provide a safe water supply.

“Not only are we below the drinking water guidelines, we’re also well below the Australian health guidelines for chemical in the water,” she said.

“I think people in the district can feel very safe about what they’re drinking.

“This is only one of the chemicals that we check for – there’s a long list of things that are checked under the health services.”

‘Significant threat’

ACTFR scientist Jon Brodie says he believes Atrazine in drinking water poses a significant threat to human health, while Tasmanian Greens’ MP Tim Morris says the campaign against Atrazine has been going on for many years in that state.

Mr Morris says no-one has successfully stopped that category of chemicals from finding their way into water supplies.

“Given the evidence that’s in against triazine chemicals, we’re continuing to call for a ban on the use of triazines in Tasmania,” he said.

“There are other alternatives that are less toxic.”

‘No trace’

Meanwhile, Cassowary Coast Mayor Bill Shannon says residents can rest assured there is no trace of Atrazine in the region’s water supply.

He says the council tests Innisfail’s water supply every month and no Atrazine has been detected in recent years.

“Of course it only would be an issue in intakes that are in the middle of agricultural areas and that does include Innisfail,” councillor Shannon said.

“The inputs for water elsewhere in the Cassowary coast region – for example Tully and the beaches – those intakes are in the world heritage area where there’s no chance of any agricultural run-off.”