The mayor of Broken Hill in far-western NSW has told BuzzFeed News he's received no complaints about the town's water quality, despite reports surfacing on social media of skin conditions and rashes developing after showering and drinking the water from the town supply.
Locals from Broken Hill have taken to a Facebook group with almost 15,000 members - just shy of the town's total 19,000 population, to share their stories and complain about the skin conditions they say the town's water is giving them.
Mayor Wincen Cuy said he believed the rashes "could be linked" to the town's water, which is running dangerously low following an El Nino-induced drought, but that it is "by far a minority of the population."
"I can't give a definite answer if there is a correlation between them, but i think there are some cases that looked like they could be linked but it is by far a minority of the population," he said.
"This shouldn't affect visitation to Broken Hill unless people have an allergy. The broader community has suffered no effect from it."
Local doctor Ramu Nachiappan, who has practiced in Broken Hill for 25 years, told BuzzFeed News he believes the skin conditions are occurring as a result of high salt levels in the town’s water.
“I think the water has played a significant part in these skin conditions,” he said. “We do have a lot more complaints about skin conditions in the last 12 months."
"No one has come to me personally or issued a complaint to me, I haven't had that issue," said Mayor Cuy. "I use it all the time, and so does my family. I haven't had any effect and [neither have] my immediate family and friends."
Last week Minister for Health Sussan Ley told BuzzFeed News the water in Broken Hill met national drinking standards, a statement that was echoed today by the town's water supplier, Essential Water.
"Essential Water conducts daily operational testing and online monitoring of Broken Hill's water supply, in tandem with a full regime of weekly independent testing," Acting Manager Water Operations, John Coffey told BuzzFeed News.
"Essential Water has received two complaints in the past 12 months in relation to water quality in Broken Hill. These were fully investigated, including testing at each customer's premises, and the water supply found to be compliant with the Australian Drinking Water Guideline's health requirements."
"We encourage any customers with queries about their water quality to call 13 20 80."
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caitlin Jinks is an Editorial Coordinator for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
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