Minister reassures public about Sydney’s desalinated water

The minister for water for the Australian state of New South Wales, Phil Costa, reassured the public on 7 November 2011 that Sydney’s drinking water remains completely safe for consumption and poses absolutely no health risk.

Costa said that human error had led to incorrect reporting of levels of E Coli in Sydney Water’s Quarterly Drinking Water Quality Report (July-September 2010).

“I can assure Sydney residents that the drinking water from the desalination plant is completely safe and continues to comply with the strictest drinking water guidelines,” Costa stated. “A human error led to incorrect reporting of the levels of E Coli at the plant as unsafe.

Costa said Sydney Water’s filtration systems continue to meet world’s best practice.

“The desalination plant is more than capable of removing any impurities in Sydney’s raw water supply,” Costa said. “Sydney’s sewage outfall systems are also designed to carry treated effluent offshore.”

Costa also responded to media speculation as to why the desalination plant did not test for cryptosporidium and giardia.

“The reverse-osmosis process in the desalination plant has membranes with pore sizes smaller than cryptosporidium and giardia, ensuring that these microorganisms are removed,” said the minister. “Furthermore the raw water passes through the filters not once but twice – which is world best practice.”

Costa apologised for any confusion that may have been caused by the reporting error and assured residents Sydney Water would investigate the mistake fully to ensure that it does not happen again.