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Wednesday, 31 May  2006  Jabiru Water

In the last two years, Jabiru residents have twice had their water supply contaminated by dangerous bacteria.


LINDY KERIN: For Christine McGuire and her 3 young children the past week has been hectic.

CHRISTINE MCGUIRE: The fire department went around and announced 'don't drink the water, no showers, no water, 'cause the water has got a bug in it', I looked up E. coli which was what it was on the internet, and it said that it was really bad for babies under 5, I've got a 2 year old and a seven month old and they could have got sick.

LINDY KERIN: After the alert Christine McGuire took the recommended precautions to protect her family.

A monthly test of the town's water supply had come back positive for E. coli, a bacteria which causes stomach cramps, diarrhoea and potentially kidney failure in children.

CHRISTINE MCGUIRE: We boiled water in the kettle and put it in the bucket to give them a bath, and that was a fun experience.

We had to boil the kettle about five times to get enough water then it was too hot, and it was an inconvenience more than anything because Jaydn is six, Haley is 2 and Molly is seven months, and you've gotta sponge bath them.

LINDY KERIN: 1,500 people live in the mining town of Jabiru which lies in the world heritage listed Kakadu National Park.

The town's water supply comes from three bores and is pumped into this storage tank.

The contamination occurred here when the chlorination process failed.

In 2003 an independent report raised concerns about the ageing infrastructure and warned that unless action was taken it was not a matter of if but when a major failure would occur.

A similar contamination incident happened in February last year.

Within four hours of the weekend contamination mining company ERA trucked in water from Darwin to distribute to families.

Health alerts were issued and the local primary school was shut down.

Like many parents Andy Ralph was most concerned about his child.

ANDY RALPH: I took my 3 year old daughter to the Jabiru childcare centre and was shocked to find out that the bubbler there out the back there was still serviceable and kids were able to drink the water. It wasn't good enough, the co-ordination was non-existent among the Jabiru emergency plan.

LINDY KERIN: Andy Ralph is the Deputy Chair of the suspended Jabiru Town Council.
He called a public meeting to talk about what happened.
At the meeting residents called on the Territory Government to reinstate the council by the end of the month.

BILL STUCHBERY: We notified all the major accommodation houses, we had police, fire and emergency services with loud speakers throughout the town, quick distribution of pamphlets explaining the situation, I think that we did everything possible. With regard to the town camp, we had two visits.

I think there's some agitation for reinstatement of the elected arm and they're probably taking it as an opportunity to point it out during this incident.

LINDY KERIN: But residents in Jabiru want an elected council.

A petition has been sent to the Territory Government asking for the matter to be resolved as quickly as possible.

The government says a report due to be complete within weeks will determine whether the council is reinstated or fresh elections held.

But some say it's dragged on too long.

Jabiru's water system has been flushed with chlorine and is now safe to drink.

Christine McGuire's son is back at school but the family is not taking any chances.

CHRISTINE MCGUIRE: I'm not going to drink it, we've got bottled water so we will just stay with bottled water for a little while. A lot of the other mums at school aren't drinking the water because they're too scared to let their kids drink it, so it's a big concern, it's not something you'd expect in a town of 1500 people.



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English Bites - Jabiru Water
story notes

went around
To go around a number of places or people is to visit them and attend each one in turn.

Example: You should go around and make sure everyone knows what's going on.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb go around, follow the link below to our language library.
more information: go around

announced
To announce means to state or make publicly known.

'cause
Notice that the short form of because is spelled with an apostrophe at the beginning. Follow the link below to find out more.
more information: 'cause

got
Here got is the past participle of the irregular verb get. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: get

bug
Here, Christine uses the word bug to describe the organism living in the water.

said
Here said is the past tense of the irregular verb say. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: say

monthly
The word monthly tells us that the test is done every month. The -ly suffix is used on certain words for time to mean this. Follow the link below to find out more.
more information: -ly suffix

come back
returned
For more meanings of the phrasal verb come back, follow the link below to our language library.
more information: come back

positive
If a test is positive, it shows the presence of a disease or bacteria.

too
When too means more than or excessively, it is spelled too. Follow the link to our language library for more.
more information: to too

Jabiru
Jabiru is about 250km from Darwin, in Kakadu National Park.


bores
Here, a bore is a hole in the ground from which water is pumped.

contamination
Contamination means impurity. It means there are unwanted or dangerous substances in the water.

chlorination
Chlorination is the act of adding chlorine to water, to make the water clean.

an
We use an instead of a before word that start with a vowel sound. Follow the link below and listen to the ways a and an are used.
more information: a & an

taken
Taken is the past participle of the irregular verb take. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: take

did
Did is the past tense of the irregular verb do. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: do

sent
Here sent is the past participle of the irregular verb send. Follow the link below to find out more and to listen to some examples.
more information: send

taking any chances
To take a chance is to do something risky, something that might fail.

Example: You should take a chance and invest your money in a new venture.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.
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