Geelong water fountains shut off after high lead levels detected
Plumbing materials are believed to be the source of the lead in the drinking fountains. (ABC News: Cameron Best)
Authorities say Geelong’s water supply is safe despite high levels of lead being detected in the council’s public drinking fountains.
About 30 water fountains have been shut off while Barwon Water and the City of Greater Geelong investigate the cause of the contamination.
Lead has not been detected in Geelong’s water supply, but levels above the defined safe level of 0.01 milligrams per litre were found in the water fountains.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Charles Guest said that the City of Greater Geelong tested a random sample of its public drinking fountains in March, following an alert from Barwon Water regarding the level of lead in water from two fountains in the municipality.
“These test results found levels of lead and some other metals in some fountains above the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines,” Professor Guest said.
In response, the City of Greater Geelong started a process of testing its more than 140 public drinking fountains across the municipality.
About 30 public drinking water fountains in Geelong have been shut off. (ABC News: Cameron Best)
As a precaution, the council is switching off the fountains found with levels of lead higher than the guidelines, while it works with the Department of Health and Human Services to identify the source of the lead, Professor Guest said.
“Current evidence indicates that the issue may be related to plumbing materials associated with the drinking fountains,” Professor Guest said.
Professor Guest said should not be worried if they had consumed water from the affected fountains.
“While the levels of lead detected are above the health guideline value in the [Australian Drinking Water Guidelines], they are not of immediate concern, as drinking water fountains are not the main source of daily drinking water,” Professor Guest said.
“This is not an issue affecting Barwon Water’s drinking water supply system and the drinking water supplied by Barwon Water remains safe to drink,” Professor Guest said.