Residents of a drought-ravaged town will be forced to drink treated SEWAGE by Christmas as the taps run dry
- Tenterfield is considering recycling their own waste water to replenish supply
- It is backed by the water minister but will need to be approved by NSW Health
- Many residents say they will refuse to drink their own recycled waste water
- Council argues it will only be used if it is even cleaning than their current water
The residents of one of Australia’s most drought impacted towns has been left with no choice but to drink their own treated sewage as existing sources run dry.
The town of Tenterfield sits three hours drive from Brisbane in far north NSW and has been given a deadline of just 74 days before they will be completely without water – meaning the taps will stop working around Christmas.
Residents are no more keen to drink recycled sewage than any other Australian, but Tenterfield Shire CEO Terry Dodds told The Daily Telegraph the situation is dire.
Tenterfield (pictured) only has 74 days worth of water remaining and authorities are taking drastic measures such as introducing recycled waste water to replenish the drinking supply
‘We have no bloody water. You don’t have to be an engineer to realise the town’s in trouble,’ he said.
Tenterfield depends on an 87-year-old water filtration plant in desperate need of an upgrade which will require additional upgrades to the unit to treat sewage water.
Residents are already forced to sterilise water for everyday usage with hospitals and school children are relying heavily on trucked-in bottled water.
Mr Dodds said he wouldn’t use the recycled water unless it was above the standard of purity that is already provided to the town and on Tuesday he will be meeting with NSW Health for approval.
The entire town relies on an 87-year-old filtration system that needs to be upgraded to process waste water
Tenterfield’s drought the worst in history
The Bureau of Meteorology revealed in July the drought surrounding the Murray Darling basin and Tenterfield is officially the worst in Australia’s history.
In June the charity Rural Aid donated portable desalination plants to the town to assist with filtration, but a new source is still needed.
The move has the full support of NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey who even suggested it as solution for other towns in dire need of a new water source.
Tenterfield is currently sweating through its driest year since 1915 and with a lack of rainfall comes bushfires – two have torn through the town in the last month alone.
Neville Smith, a volunteer firefighter, recently suffered terrible burns to his arm in a fire that destroyed four homes in the town.
Making matters worse, the ash from the fire then rests on Tenterfield Shire’s water supply dam, where it clogs the already struggling filtration system.
The CEO said the town’s 4,000-plus residents are brave enough to take the first step and start using recycled waste water but not all agree.
With record dry weather the town is also battling bush fires, with two tearing through the town in the last month
Mum of two Michelle Battersby said her family will continue to use bottled water over recycled water despite the lack of fluoride.
Her eight-year-old daughter Kyla said: ‘I don’t like the idea of people’s poo in my water,’
The town’s mayor Peter Petty is tasked with convincing the town of the merits of recycled water and argues it will be cleaner than ever before.
‘If we can use water that we’re otherwise wasting out of the sewerage treatment plant, and if that will get us through this drought, we need to,’ he said.
The town desperately needs to locate more bore water to use during the estimated two-year construction time of the new filtration plant – but no sources have been found.
Many residents say they refused to drink the recycled waste water and will resort to the trucked-in bottled supply