Snake is bacteria suspect

A SNEAKY snake shacking-up in Copmanhurst’s water reservoir is thought to be behind heightened bacteria levels in the reservoir’s water supply.

The reservoir is offline and Copmanhurst residents are advised to boil their drinking water in response to the problem.

According to operations engineer for the Clarence Valley Council Water Cycle Department Frank Vaarwerk, the issue came to light last week after a routine test of water from the reservoir.

“What’s happened is we test the water every week out there for bacterial quality and we had a failure, the bacterial quality exceeded the drinking water guidelines, so we started doing some investigation and when we looked inside the reservoir. The operator was greeted by a snake looking at him up in the rafters,” Mr Vaarwerk said.

“We believe it’s a green tree snake but we only saw it very briefly so we can’t be sure.”

“So the snake has actually squeezed through a hatch to get in – it’s a fairly warm, moist place to live so it would be fairly ideal for a habitat, it’d be nice and warm during the day with the sun hitting the roof.” Although the snake has not yet been proven to be the definite cause of the contamination, Mr Vaarwerk said by-products of a snake living in the reservoir were the only explanation the council could find for the heightened bacteria levels.

He said further testing was being done to confirm the cause and said precautions had been taken in the meantime to protect Copmanhurst residents.

“They’ve been advised to boil the water as a precaution until we get the all clear from NSW Health from the testing we do – we’re continuing on our testing and when we get some clear results, we’ll lift the advice to boil drinking water,” he said.

“Also, what normally happens is that water is fed basically from Grafton into the reservoir and then re-distributed from there so what we’ve done is taken the reservoir offline so Copmanhurst is being fed directly from the Grafton reticulation now instead of through the reservoir.”

He also said extra chlorine was being added to the water in the reservoir to reduce the bacteria to the standards set by NSW Health.

As for the reservoir’s scaly guest, Mr Vaarwerk said it would soon have to find a new home to prevent future contamination.

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