Health concerns: Water with high levels of faecal coliforms and hatching mosquito larvae lies stagnant in a stormwater drain at Evans Head. Jon Lawrence wants something done to fix the problem so his grandchildren (from left) Sophie, 6, William, 4, and Jacob Laing, 20 months, can play safely in his yard.
Health concerns: Water with high levels of faecal coliforms and hatching mosquito larvae lies stagnant in a stormwater drain at Evans Head. Jon Lawrence wants something done to fix the problem so his grandchildren (from left) Sophie, 6, William, 4, and Jacob Laing, 20 months, can play safely in his yard. David Nielsen

Puddle has faecal contamination

A PUDDLE of water with faecal contamination levels 7000 times greater than limits set down by National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines has been sitting in Jon Lawrence’s driveway for about two years.

The murky puddle, which sits in front of eight houses in Ocean Drive in Evans Head, reportedly comes from a Telstra pit, but dwells in a Richmond Valley Council stormwater drain, causing the two groups to fight over the clean-up process for the past two years.

The mystery water has been a breeding spot for mosquitos, algae and contamination according to a water analysis report Mr Lawrence received on April 13.

“Telstra diverted the water from the pit it was first coming from to another Telstra pit in my neighbour’s yard and now it just comes out of there, into the stormwater drain and down in front of my house,” Mr Lawrence said.

“I had my grandchild – who is only one – over the other day and he walked straight up to the water. I thought ‘that looks terrible’, so I took a sample of the water and got it tested.”

The results proved Mr Lawrence’s initial fears.

The water analysis returned results showing the water had very high faecal coliform levels and posed a health risk.

Faecal coliform is bacteria associated with the faeces of warm-blooded animals, including humans, and can cause diarrhoea, cholera and hepatitis.

Mr Lawrence has been corresponding with the council and Telstra about the contaminated water which is constantly there, rain, hail or shine.

Mr Lawrence has fears the contamination in the water may come from a sewage leak and only wants to protect neighbourhood children who play near the water.

“The fact that it is a health risk and that it is exposed to the public is an issue to me,” he said.

“If a child is playing in that then you have all kinds of problems.”

Richmond Valley Council senior environmental health officer Andrew Hanna said he would not be able to properly comment on the ongoing situation until an inspection was carried out today.

“We are doing an inspection on it and I will talk to our drainage engineer about it,” he said.

“It’s about the stormwater drain system and how the water is getting there, and if it’s pooling in a Telstra pit or not.”



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