Does Cobar’s water meet health standards?

When challenged by The Cobar Weekly to drink Cobar’s water, Cobar Shire Council’s general manager Peter Vlatko was happy to take a controlled test in The Weekly’s kitchen. Mr Vlatko said while from time to time, there are discolouration issues, our water is safe to drink.

Cobar Shire Council’s general manager Peter Vlatko and the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSW LHD) want to assure the Cobar community that our water supply meets public health standards.

In response to a request from local resident Lydon McIntyre for a document attesting that Cobar’s water meets drinking water standards, Mr Vlatko and the NSW LHD have offered the following information.

“As a water authority the council is required by law to comply with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines,” Mr Vlatko said.

“The guidelines require council to submit water samples for microbiological and chemical testing by a NATA [National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia] accredited laboratory on a regular basis.

“The results of these tests are posted on the Ministry of Health Water Branch water data base,” he said.

“Should there be any exceedances of the standards the Public Health Unit is informed by the laboratory and they contact us to ensure the problem is rectified in order to provide a safe water supply.”

Mr Vlatko said recently council was required by law to provide the Ministry of Health a ‘Drinking Water Management System’ which was completed in consultation with external water engineers and the Public Health Unit.

“This document sets out operational parameters to achieve safe drinking water which is reviewed annually to ensure a safe water supply.”

Mr Vlatko said there are two types of standards within the guidelines.

“The first type involves health values and the other involves aesthetic values. Failure to meet health values could cause illness in those drinking the water and those of aesthetics include colour, odour and smell and, while these are often more noticeable than the health values, they do not cause illness.

“Should there be any threat to health as a result of poor water quality, council is required to inform those that use the water (our community) of actions required to render the water safe for consumption.”

Mr Vlatko said council has not had cause to do this.

He said the community can feel safe that they are drinking water that meets health standards and that council also recognises there is a discolouring issue which is being addressed.


“The Public Health Unit has not received any notifications about any issues with the quality of the drinking water in Cobar.

“Regular sampling and testing of drinking water in all areas of the LHD, including in Cobar, are regularly taken,” the WNSW LHD spokesperson said.

Mr Vlatko said water samples for testing are taken from the front water meters at homes and business at random locations throughout the town.

The WNSW LHD reports chlorine levels in drinking water are tested frequently, and on site testing of turbidity is also undertaken to ensure drinking water is of the appropriate quality.

“Sampling or testing that results in variations or problems with water quality is immediately reported to both the local council, the Public Health Unit and Local Health District so appropriate actions can be taken to rectify any problems,” the WNSW LHD spokesperson said.

Yesterday Mr Vlatko provided The Cobar Weekly with a copy of the Department of Primary Industries Water, 2015-16 NSW Water Supply and Sewerage Performance Monitoring Report (which is its most recent report) which gave Cobar’s water a 100 per cent rating in E-coli compliance and chemical compliance.

Mr Vlatko said he would also be sending Mr McIntyre a copy of the DPI Water’s report.