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Not all homes and businesses in the Yass Valley have a reticulated drinking water supply. The following sections provide information on the safe use of drinking water from alternative water supplies.
Groundwater is an essential source of water for many households in Yass Valley. Groundwater is water that is sourced from below the earth’s surface and is accessed by drilling a bore into underground water storages known as aquifers.
NSW Health recommends that groundwater is not used for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene (including cleaning teeth and bathing) without testing and appropriate treatment including disinfection.
Potable water that is treated to remove pathogens should always be the first choice for your drinking water. However, bore water can be used for irrigation, livestock watering, garden watering and for domestic uses such as flushing toilets and clothes washing.
In some circumstances and with adequate testing and treatment, it may be suitable for drinking, cooking, filling swimming pools and watering edible plants. If a household is using bore water it is recommended that they become familiar with the quality of the water by taking a sample of the bore water and having it tested to ensure that it is not contaminated and is safe to use. It is recommended that bore water used for household purposes such as drinking, food preparation and personal hygiene meet NSW Private Water Supply guidelines.
What are the risks?
Groundwater is generally a safe and reliable source of water, however, it may become contaminated from outside sources. Groundwater contamination can persist for a long time and spread from the original source of contamination, over a large area underground. Groundwater in rural areas can become contaminated from a range of sources, such as:
The health risks associated with contaminated bores varies depending on the concentration and type of contaminants present.
How do I protect my bore?
Well maintained rainwater tanks can provide a good source of water to households. Installing a water tank can decrease household demand on treated supplies of water and reduce stormwater run-off. In urban areas, the public water supply remains the most reliable source of water and should always be used for drinking. However, rainwater can be used for purposes such as flushing toilets, clothes washing, watering the garden or washing cars.
In some areas of the Yass Valley LGA rainwater is the primary source of household water. Generally rainwater is safe to drink, as long as the rainwater tank is properly maintained and the rainwater is clear with little taste or smell. Rainwater can become contaminated with harmful micro-organisms and parasites, with common sources of contamination being bird or animal droppings, roof or plumbing materials and the accumulation of organic material in gutters. It is important to maintain rainwater tanks and associated plumbing to prevent contamination and to ensure the provision of good quality water.
Preventing the contamination of drinking water
With current conditions, it is important to ensure your tank water remains clean when the much needed rain finally falls.
Dust, leaf litter, bird droppings and the presence of contaminates in smoke, ash and debris from fires can contaminate rainwater. It is important to minimise the amount of these from entering rainwater tanks.
First flush diverters prevent the first portion of rainwater run-off from the roof from entering the tank. This reduces the amount of contamination from sources such as dust, leaf litter and bird droppings.
If you do not have a flush diverter installed, you can simply disconnect the tank inlet to prevent the first run-off from entering the tank.
If you would like to find out more information about how to maintain your rainwater tanks, please refer to the Guidance on Use of Rainwater Tanks document at the bottom of this page, which is produced by NSW Health.
Disinfection of rainwater tanks
The most common methods to disinfect a rainwater tank is by chlorination, ultraviolet light irradiation or boiling water. Bringing water to a rolling boil disinfects water, most kettles with automatic shut-offs are suitable for this purpose.
Chlorination is effective against harmful bacteria and viruses, and can reduce odours from rainwater. Disinfection can be achieved by adding 40 ml of liquid sodium hypochlorite (12.5% available chlorine) or 7 g of granular calcium hypochlorite (75% available chlorine) per 1000 L to the tank. Enough chlorine needs to be added to ensure at least 0.5 mg/L of free chlorine residual after 30 minutes of contact time.
Topping up tanks with carted water
If you are topping up your tank with water from a water carter, ensure that you are being supplied with clean drinking water (potable water). All water carters should comply with the NSW Health Guidelines for Water Carters.
If you require any further assistance or have any inquiries, please call Council and ask to speak with one of our Environmental Health Officers.
Water caters that provide drinking water are required to develop a Quality Assurance Program that complies with the Public health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2012. Carters are also required to keep detailed records such as where the water was supplied from, the person receiving the water, quantity of water and the date of supply.
As water carters provide potable water to businesses and households, they are required to register as a food business with Council by completing form 187 – Food Business and/or Food Safety Supervisor Notification and returning it to Council.
Premises that serve the public and use an independent source of water, such as bore water or rainwater, are required to comply with the NSW Public Health Act 2010 and the NSW Public Health Regulation 2012. This includes caravan parks, camp grounds, food premises and other businesses that supply water and/or food to their customers.
Under the Act and Regulation these premises are required to develop a Quality Assurance Program to ensure that all water supplied meets the requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and the relevant Act and Regulation.
Yass Valley Council
209 Comur Street, Yass, NSW 2582
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Call us: +61 2 6226 1477
Email us: Council@yass.nsw.gov.au
Yass Valley Council recognises the traditional custodians of the land, the Ngunnawal people, and acknowledges the Elders of the community and their descendants.
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