Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Lithgow’s “mine water” supply exceeds drinking water standards

Lithgow on the western edge of the Blue Mountain is currently drinking “mine water” from the Clarence Colliery that sits on Newnes Plateau above the town.  Despite Environment Protection Authority (EPA) assurances, the mine’s environmental monitoring data indicates that nickel and lead levels in the mine water exceed the recommended limits set by Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

“In correspondence the EPA on October 20 stated that the Clarence Colliery’s mine water is considered “good quality drinking water in accordance with the Australian Drinking Water Guideline (ADWG)”.  If the EPA had looked at the mine’s monthly monitoring data it would not have made this claim,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“Centennial Coal’s monthly monitoring data shows pollution limits were exceeded in this mine discharge.  A media release from the Lithgow City Council dated 5th October 2017 announcing the use of the mine water also states:

"… The water Clarence supplies to Lithgow is considered, good quality drinking water in accordance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).*"…

“The EPA has apparently just mouthed the words of the council’s media release without a basic check of company monitoring data to confirm the council’s claim,” Mr Muir said.

“The metal pollution limits for the Clarence mine discharges are now stricter than the ADWG limits, but these limits have been exceeded for lead and nickel#  which raises questions about the safety of the town’s water supply”, Mr Muir said. 

“The Lithgow should urgently seek a source of raw drinking that is less likely to be contaminated than this mine water discharge.  In the meantime, EPA must rigidly enforce and improve the pollution discharge standards for this mine”, he said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)

# NHMRC’s "Australian Drinking Water Guidelines" are 0.01 mg/L for lead and 0.02 mg/L for nickel have been exceeded by Clarence Colliery mine water.

LDP002 ADWG exceedances since 2017:
Nickel levels - 0.032 mg/L in September 2017;  and 0.31 mg/L in July 2017 [ADWG limit is 0.02 mg/L)
Lead levels - 0.01 mg/L (at ADWG limit) in September 2017; 0.012 mg/L in July 2017; and 0.015 mg/L in February 2017