Rous Water accepts mix up

UNDER repeated questioning by Ballina mayor and Rous Water councillor Philip Silver, the water authority conceded it had mixed up ‘high risk’ with ‘high hazard’ in its report on the threat of backwater flow contaminating household water supplies.

The report, which was the basis of the front page of yesterday’s Northern Star, said 519 properties have ‘high risk’ connections to the water supply with the potential to cause death if the drinking water becomes contaminated.

“The report mixes the terms ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’ and I’m glad the ( Northern Star) journalist raised it (the report) with me,” Cr Silver said.

“The report is alarmist. It talks about high hazard and also talks about high risk. In fact, it’s low risk.”

Risk refers to the likelihood something will happen, while hazard refers to the severity of the event.

Cr Silver told yesterday’s Rous Water meeting that if there was a high risk he would immediately put a motion forward that effectively would advise households not to use town water.

However, once the risk to households was downgraded to minimal, Cr Silver joined the others in supporting a motion by Cr Richard Staples for Rous Water to write another report examining the criteria for risk assessment, and the number and type of connections at risk.

It will also look at cost recovery under a possible scenario where the authority installs backflow prevention devices in homes and then charges households for the devices.

The meeting also deferred a motion about the testing of chemicals to be used during fluoridation of the region’s water supplies.

Cr Keith Johnson had proposed seven actions to be completed at least one month before fluoridation, but later agreed to defer the motion until next month to allow staff the opportunity to respond to issues raised in his proposal.

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