Even a splash is dangerous

PEOPLE who hire boats on Parramatta River will be warned the water is too polluted for direct human contact — even from splashing.

In June 2011 a Parramatta Council report leaked to the Sun said the river in the CBD should not be used for boating activities due to ‘‘consistent elevations in bacterial levels’’.

On Monday, lord mayor John Chedid said the council would hire dinghies and other craft for use on the river as a trial project to ‘‘activate this beautiful foreshore’’.

But the council later issued a statement confirming the water was still too polluted for direct human contact.

Advice given to the council about the danger to people from pollution in the river was to ‘‘avoid primary contact and secondary contact, especially after rain’’.

A spokeswoman for the council said that meant the water was too polluted for people to swim in and it may still be dangerous if it splashed onto people.

‘‘As part of a safety briefing prior to using the rowboats and paddleboats, all customers are instructed to avoid primary contact with the water and to avoid splashing,’’ the statement read.

The river has a long history of pollution, with stormwater and sewerage run-off as well as chemical leaching from the Camellia industrial precinct affecting the river.

In 2009 the toxic chemical made famous by US environmental activist Erin Brockovich was found to be leaking into the river from a site at Camellia, posing a serious health risk to people and marine life.

The chemical, chromium VI, is listed as the second most hazardous substance on the federal government’s list of 400 pollutants.

But the council said work had since been done to remediate the river. 

‘‘The council has a considerable commitment to improving water quality with the installation of over 40 pollution-removal devices across the local-government area,’’ the spokeswoman said.

‘‘The council also continually conducts regular sampling tests of the river water to monitor pollution levels, the last of which was done in June 2012, as well as monitoring illegal dumping of waste into the River.

‘‘In addition to this, the recently installed Barry Wilde Bridge Fountain uses a filtration and UV sterilisation process as it recycles water, which is considered to help improve water quality.

‘‘An analytical program has commenced to investigate the improvement of water quality in the river through this process.

‘‘The details of this study aren’t available yet.’’

Parramatta River

Parramatta River

This story Even a splash is dangerous first appeared on Parramatta Sun.


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