Walgett’s mother, Kylie McKenzie, had no idea that the water from the tap was slowly destroying her son Xander’s immune system.
- Kylie Mackenzie’s son Xander became dehydrated due to high sodium levels in Walgett’s tap water
- Indigenous leaders have made an impassioned plea to Water Minister Rose Jackson about the condition of NSW’s river systems
- The minister made no specific promises but hinted that sweeping water reforms were being considered.
New South Wales Water Minister Rose Jackson met with Mackenzie and other residents on Friday to hear their concerns about the town’s water quality.
After the meeting, Ms Jackson announced that Walgett’s water supply would be returned from the well to the river by Wednesday as a “short-term” measure.
Aboriginal elders are calling for more permanent solutions to ensure the long-term health of river systems and the water security of their communities.
The town’s water treatment plants have been unable to treat the turbidity and blue-green algae in the Namoi River, and for the past five years have been forced to rely on poor quality well water.
High sodium levels in well water have been considered dangerous for people with chronic illnesses, like Mackenzie’s son.
“During the summer he was constantly dehydrated and we didn’t know why,” Mackenzie said.
“Now we know—we were pumping him with sodium.
“We try to keep him hydrated, thinking we’re doing the right thing, but we weren’t.”
“We are river people”
Aboriginal leaders of the Daliwa Elders’ Group called on the Minister for sweeping reforms to protect the river.
These demands include enforceable extraction limits, higher penalties for water theft, end-of-system flow priorities, annual independent audits of water management, and a maximum of 20 milligrams of sodium per liter of Walgett drinking water. It is included.
Vanessa Hickey of the Daliwa Elders Group cried as she explained to Mr. Jackson the condition of the river.
Hickey said he remembers swimming in the Barwon and Namoi rivers as a child.
“We Aboriginal people, especially outside Wolgett Way, we are river people,” she said.
“Our responsibility is to take care of our country and take care of our totem.
“We Aboriginal people have done nothing to do this and are now suffering.
“We have dams, we have cotton fields, we have coal seam gas, we have floodplain harvests. How do our rivers recover when they keep flowing?”
Ms. Jackson did not announce at the meeting that she would address the long-term systemic problems facing the river system.
She said there was an appetite for sweeping water reforms under the new government, including enforceable restrictions on water extraction.
“Our river system is very sick and it’s the result of decades of inaction,” Jackson said.
“We want to reset the way rivers are managed.
“We want a reset of NSW’s commitments under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-04-29/walgett-drinking-water-distress-aired-at-forum/102281886 Drinking water quality in Walgett, river system concerns televised by distressed residents