Manure Water

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

This is Carabooda, 50 kilometres north of Perth and home to some of W.A's major market gardens. Many of the vegies you buy at the supermarket are grown in these fields. Out here, farms and families drink from the same water. Water they all thought was safe…

Soon after moving to Carabooda, Kerry Long, could barely get out of bed. It was several months before her doctor found out the reason why…

"I suggested to him could it be anything to do with the fact we weren't on scheme water, that all our water came from bores and straight away he said, yeah, that's it. That's what it will be".

These residents fear they've been drinking dirty water. Water contaminated with nitrate.

"It's a very serious problem and it causes major problems in young children and major problems in adults with low levels of acid in their stomach and it turns to gastric cancer".

Federal MP and local avocado grower, Mal Washer claims something foul is polluting the water.

Locals claim photos show mountains of raw chicken manure used by some farmers as fertiliser.

Chicken manure is full of nitrate. For vegies it's like feeding them steroids and for people it's toxic.

Mal suspects nitrate from the manure is leaching into the earth and eventually into underground bores. Bores which hundreds of homeowners drink from.

Now they buy their water by the gallon, but many fear the damage may already be done.

Shirley Morris, doesn't put her families run of bad health down to bad luck. Shirley lives in Woodridge, another 30 kilometres north of Carabooda and like her neighbours, she fears the water is contaminated.

The Health Department's Jim Dodds, says there's no evidence linking cancer to contaminated water, but he does warn drinking bore water can be a risky.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council a safe level of nitrate is 100 milligrams per litre.

"The numbers we're seeing up there in bores that have been tested indicate there are exceeding the recommended drinking water guideline values in Australia" says Jim Dodds.

Campaigners claim the laws aren't tough enough on those who break the rules. They want the use of raw manure banned, before it pollutes our most precious resource.

Below is a link to the fact sheet regarding the water issue at Carabooda...

Click here for more details