by Julia Baker
WHEN Kerri Bean moved to The Gums with her husband and six children to live out their dream of living on a country property, she never for a moment thought the water connected to her home could be making her family sick.
Until she discovered the town's water was supplied by a stock bore.
Four years later, the Bean family has been forced to relocate to Chinchilla after suffering a string of unexplained illnesses that Mrs Bean said could be linked to the water her family was drinking and using for household purposes on a daily basis.
In the past three years, Mrs Bean said she and her children suffered from numerous illnesses, including stomach complaints and glandular fever, which had required them to be treated with strong courses of antibiotics.
"Abi, my 10-year-old, had a whole term off school last year due to unexplained abdominal pain. They couldn't work that out, and the lymph nodes in her neck went necrotic, which means they were dying."
In July, Mrs Bean was diagnosed with Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria often found in poor water supplies. Her husband and one of her children also tested positive for the bacteria.
"I myself have never drank the water and I still got Helicobacter, but apparently if you brush your teeth in it it's the same as drinking it every day," MrsBean said.
Mrs Bean said The Gums water supply had been unreliable since the family moved to the property in 2013, but it wasn't until the Australia Day long weekend in January she realised the water had never been tested and was classified as non-potable by council.
"Before the Australia Day weekend, the longest we had been without water was 12hours. This particular time was 36 hours... so I posted something on the Chinchilla Community Forum (Facebook page) and that ended with (Western Downs Regional Council) councillors ringing me."
Mrs Bean claims during a telephone conversation with a councillor, she was told The Gums water came from a livestock bore and was not suitable for human consumption.
"One of the comments made on the phone on that Australia Day was, 'Oh s**t no, I wouldn't be showering in it, let alone drinking it.'
"It became apparent pretty quickly that no one knew it was like that. We just thought it was the same as Tara - that it's non-potable but they know what's in it and it's safe to shower in."
Mrs Bean said there were about 16 properties at The Gums connected to the bore.
Before the Australia Day conversation, the Bean family had never been told their property was being supplied by a livestock bore and council-issued water notices received by the Beans do not list the water as non-potable.
But WDRC councillor for utilities Peter Saxelby said Mrs Bean was made aware by two councillors the water at The Gums was non-potable.
"The real estate agency should have advised them it is not suitable for drinking and if they did a rates search it should have told them that as well," he said.
Cr Saxelby said water classifications and charges for different districts, including non-potable water supplies, were available on council's website.
Western Downs districts that receive non-potable water are charged at 90% of the council's standard consumption charges.
"I do know it's on the council's website and it lists the towns that have a potable supply and raw water supply and a non-potable supply," CrSaxelby said.