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Water companies well afloat

THE pure water market in Australia is growing at between 20 per cent to 30 per cent a year, according to Billabong Water Quality Management director Richard Patterson.

In recent years there has been an explosion of bottled water and water purifiers on the market. Even towns such as Gibson, in WA’s south east have jumped on the bandwagon selling bottled rainwater.

Cool Clear Water Company managing director Anthony Hayes said quality water had become a lucrative market because of a more health conscious community.

“Most people know the indisputable fact that one must consume at least six to eight glasses of water per day for good health,” Mr Hayes said.

“Many people believe chlorine and fluorides contained in tap water may be carcinogenic and the Sydney water scare has certainly given the industry a boost over the past twelve months,” he said.

Mr Hayes said while Perth water was not as impure as some Australian cities – Adelaide, for example – the quality varied dramatically across the metropolitan area.

“There is more sediment in the central business district and surrounding areas due to old pipes,” he said.

“The northern suburbs seems to get water that contains more total dissolved solids than is acceptable.

“Mandurah appears to have a similar problem. TDS levels of 240 parts per litre have been recorded there compared to 195 parts per litre in Perth.”

Billabong Water Quality Management conducted a study in June last year in conjunction with MPL Laboratories to test TDSs from seven different water sources in the Perth metropolitan area.

Mr Patterson said water quality varied not only from suburb to suburb but from month to month.

“Levels of TDSs tend to be slightly higher in the city in the summer months as the water gets warmer,” Mr Patterson said.

“The levels of fluoride and chlorine in water can vary depending on a building’s proximity to the plant, and the main complaint here is the odour and the taste.

“There are a range of bore sources in the northern suburbs. While south of the river, which is mostly dam water, has a lower TDS level, it has a higher silt content.

“Conversely, the northern suburbs tends to have higher TDS levels and lower silt content,” he said.

Mr Patterson said Australia had a ‘spring water mentality’, while most of the US market was obtained through reverse-osmosis and Asian markets favoured distilled.

“At the end of the day, most water in Australia originates from the ground,” he said.

Mr Patterson said Australia might soon follow the US example and introduce an industry regulatory body.

“Some consumers have spent $1,000 on a system only to find the supplier has closed down six months later when they need a new part,” he said.

“There aren’t many stayers, which is a problem for the industry.”

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