Barry Lee has been living in Bonville for 30 years and he is worried about the potential health impacts from spraydrift from nearby farms.
Barry Lee has been living in Bonville for 30 years and he is worried about the potential health impacts from spraydrift from nearby farms.

‘I’ve had enough’: seeking second opinion on drinking water tests

BARRY Lee has waited almost two years for the results of testing on his drinking water tank at Bonville.

"I've had enough. I signed up for this study in November 2017," Mr Lee said.

"Yet here we are almost two years later and I have ignorantly been kept in the dark."

He was one of several participants in the 'Assessment of spray drift impacts from intensive plant agriculture on neighbouring drinking water tanks' study conducted by Coffs Harbour City Council in collaboration with other agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The study was conducted in response to inquiries and complaints from residents about potential impacts of intensive agriculture on neighbouring properties.

Barry lives at Bonville near a blueberry farm and has long held concerns about the chemical spray drift which he fears is seriously impacting his health.

Fed up with waiting for the results of the Council study he engaged Douglas Partners at a cost of almost $8,000, to carry out soil and water sampling on his property. He is currently waiting on the reading of results from another independent source.

When he, and other residents living within 80 metres of an operational blueberry farm with a history of spray drift issues, agreed to participate in the study they were told they would be notified within 24 hours if agricultural chemicals were found.

RELATED: Alarming results prompt calls to reform blueberry industry

He has written to council demanding they release the results immediately and he has been told the report will be finalised in coming weeks.

Councillor Sally Townley has also been concerned about the delay and raised the issue as a matter of urgent business at the last council meeting.

 

Barry Lee has engaged Douglas Partners at a cost of almost $8,000, to carry out independent soil and water sampling on his property. He is currently awaiting the results.
Barry Lee has engaged Douglas Partners at a cost of almost $8,000, to carry out independent soil and water sampling on his property. He is currently awaiting the results.

She was expecting to be briefed on the results last month but instead was told the results would be going to Southern Cross University for further review.

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

"The only reason I can assume is that all the results were not nil; 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 Dr 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.