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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Cyanide found in water supply

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Low levels of cyanide compounds have been discovered in water sourced from the Rocky Creek Dam near Lismore. The dam supplies water to Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Lismore shires.

Mullumbimby is the exception – it is supplied by Byron Council’s Lavertys Gap weir.

Rous Water, the county council that manages the dam, says it is investigating irregular water quality tests along with the NSW health department. They say, however, that there is no threat to public health.

‘When Rous Water received the first test result we immediately contacted the NSW health department to determine if a public health threat existed,’ general manager of Rous Water Kyme Lavelle said. ‘Results showed the amount of cyanide was well below levels that would cause either short-term or long-term health problems.’

Cyanide occurs naturally in the environment including waterways and Rous Water believes the extensive wet weather, which has resulted in a large amount of organic and mineral-based material flowing into Rocky Creek Dam, could be the cause of the problem.

‘The dam recently reached its highest level on record and it is possible the organic material that has washed into the dam could have caused the cyanide results,’ Mr Lavelle said.

A population of around 95,000 is serviced by this water supply, says www.rouswater.nsw.gov.au.

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