Planet Ark News - The teenager tackling water contamination in remote Western Australia
Planet Ark News

The teenager tackling water contamination in remote Western Australia

Date: 05-Sep-18
Author: Liam Taylor

Kimberley water supplies such as the Ord River are at risk of contamination from mining activities. Image: Flickr © Jon Connell

Kimberley water supplies such as the Ord River are at risk of contamination from mining activities. Image: Flickr

Uriah Daisybell is not your average teenager from outback Western Australia. Driven by his desire to fix an ongoing problem in remote Aboriginal communities, the indigenous teenager has invented a water filter that could identify and reduce the presence of contaminants in water supplies. 

In 2015 a report from the WA Auditor-General found more than a dozen WA communities had unsafe nitrate levels in drinking water, while higher than normal levels of other heavy metals were also found. The contaminants are believed to have leaked from mining activities in the area. 

Contamination in drinking water could be a factor in a range of health issues including diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease and cancer. 

‘Back at home [in the Kimberley], the water isn’t very good,’ Uriah said. 

‘I researched further and some water supplies have been contaminated by heavy metals. That’s why the idea sparked of a filter.’ 

"I told my mum back in the Kimberley. She's very proud that I'm actually doing… something that will help out." 

Uriah grew up in Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley region, but is now completing Year 12 at the Christian Aboriginal Parent-Directed School in Coolgardie, about 550 kilometres from Perth. Encouraged by his science teacher, he built a prototype filter to enter his school’s science fair. 

The prototype employed components including neodymium magnets, carbon-coated mussel shells and charcoal, all of which were readily available and affordable to the teenager. This could be crucial if the filters were to be used in remote areas of Australia. 

Currently there are no plans to manufacture or install the filter on any scale, however Uriah hopes to get a scholarship to study engineering at university, where he could continue the project. 

 

Positive Action 

  • Show your support for clean drinking supplies by demanding independent environmental assessments for any new mining licenses. 
  • Find out more about Australia’s water contamination issues and what is being done to address them with this excellent summary of the situation on The Conversation. 

 

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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor

Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.
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