Health review finds no issue at Broken Hill
New South Wales health authorities say the drinking water supply at Broken Hill is safe, despite locals claiming it causes skin irritation.
Alarm was raised when images began circulating in local social media groups, showing children with blisters and sores allegedly caused by bathing in the water.
Far West Local Health District spokesperson Priscilla Stanley says the concern of residents prompted the department to have a look.
“We are aware that there are some people in town that are making a link between the water and skin irritations, or infections,” Ms Stanley told the ABC.
Ms Stanley said the department had been watching presentations to emergency departments as well as discussions with GPs and pharmacists in Broken Hill.
An assessment based on their reports suggests the increase in skin complaints had stopped.
Healthcare workers have also reported a decrease in skin-related complaints.
West Local Health District said it had not received any complaints about the water quality in Broken Hill, but that the supply does meet national standards.
“As far as the water quality is concerned, the Environmental Health Unit is responsible for regular monitoring of the water [and] there haven't been any issues identified,” the department said.
Ms Stanley said skin irritation could be seasonal.
“I have no doubt there probably are people in the community that are experiencing skin conditions or skin irritations, which is actually what we do see and would expect to see in the warmer months,” she said.
“You will see a bit of a spike in comparison to winter months because of the heat and the activities, etcetera.”
Water authorities switched on the city’s desalination plant in January to reduce salinity in the water supply, which became more saline as water levels in the Menindee Lakes dropped.
Local water provider and desalination operator Essential Water’s data suggests there has been a 25 per cent improvement in salinity, a 30 per cent drop in water hardness and a 40 per cent improvement in alkalinity since the plant fired up.