Palm Island water shortage

A Red Cross spokesman said the relief agency hoped to supply the island’s residents with much-needed drinking water within days.

The Palm Island Council asked the Red Cross to intervene after it was revealed the indigenous community’s water supply could evaporate in less than two months.

The spokesman said some residents were suffering so badly plans were underway to bring them to the mainland.

“Red Cross workers on Palm Island have told us that there has been an outbreak of boils over there – we haven’t got the extent of that,” he told ABC radio.

“But clearly that relates to issues of hygiene and a lack of water and I understand that they’re making arrangements for a number of people to move over to the mainland so it is a very serious situation.”

Queensland’s government has refused a request from the council to close the community to visitors because of the severe water shortage.

Palm Island Mayor Erykah Kyle had asked the government to close the island to visitors, including the 10 public servants who travel there each day.

“It is not only drinking water which is at issue here – people on the island use toilets, wash hands, drink tea and cost precious water resources which may be needed in the coming weeks,” she said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy Minister John Mickel said the government would supply fresh water at cost price to Palm Island and had instructed public servants to carry their own drinking water and avoid overnight stays on the island.

While the water situation on Palm Island was serious, there were no plans at this stage to evacuate residents, Mr Mickel said.

“As I understand it, they have two months supply of fresh water left so we are tackling this issue on a number of fronts,” Mr Mickel said.

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