The research has been conducted by Coffs Harbour City Council with the support of NSW Health and the Environmental Protection Authority after complaints about the impact of spray drift from intensive plant agriculture.
The research has been conducted by Coffs Harbour City Council with the support of NSW Health and the Environmental Protection Authority after complaints about the impact of spray drift from intensive plant agriculture.

Councillor questions delay on spray drift results

The results of research into the impacts of spray drift on water tanks should be released immediately a councillor has urged.

Coffs Harbour City Councillor Sally Townley raised it as a matter of urgent business at the recent council meeting but Mayor Denise Knight deemed the question could be put on notice to be followed up by staff.

"If it was your water tank would you want to know straight away?" Cr Townley asked the Mayor.

The research has been conducted by council with the support of NSW Health and the Environmental Protection Authority following complaints from residents about the impacts of spray drift from intensive agriculture on drinking water tanks.

"Council promised participants that if agricultural chemicals were detected, they would be notified within 24 hours. I am aware of four participants who say they have not received any results despite samples being taken many months ago," Cr Townley said.

 

Councillor Sally Townley.
Councillor Sally Townley.

Approximately 20 residents with roof tops supplying drinking water tanks within 80 metres of an operational blueberry farm with a history of spray drift issues participated in the research.

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Cr Townley was expecting to be briefed on the results last week but instead she was told the results would be going to Southern Cross University for further review.

"If all the results were nill then why would we be sending a nill report off to Southern Cross to get peer reviewed.

"The only reason I can assume is that all the results were not nill; so if we have done a study and there was pesticide residue in people's water tanks and we haven't notified them within 24 hours then I think it's unconscionable and I think we should make those results available to those people."

General Manager Steve McGrath accused Cr Townley of misquoting him and says the results have not yet been finalised and should be available in the next three weeks and that the SCU peer review was part of the research process and not an additional measure.

He says there will be a briefing for councillors once the results are finalised.

Cr Townley has asked the results be made available: "with great urgency to those who participated in the study - particularly if something was detected in their water.

"Some of those people signed up 18 months ago for that study."