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‘We don’t want town water here’

By Rebecca Peppiatt

WEST Bullsbrook residents are divided after the government announcement last week they’d finally be getting hooked up to scheme water, five years after their bores were contaminated with toxic fire fighting chemicals (PFAS).

However, not all properties in the area were affected and those that weren’t are not welcoming the news that they will be connected to mains water, and possibly charged for it, whether they like it or not.

“We didn’t want it, we still don’t want it,” Turner Road resident Duncan Bacon said.

“We understand other people have contamination in their bores but there’s other ways of getting around that.

“The problem is when they stick the water in, we’re going to have to pay rates whether we like it or not.”

Defence Minister Melissa Price, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham and City of Swan Mayor Kevin Bailey were all in Bullsbrook last Thursday to announce the news as well as launch the start of building the quarantine facility on nearby Defence Force land.

Bullsbrook Residents and Ratepayers Association members have been fighting for clean, safe water for the affected people in west Bullsbrook for years, who are still using bottled water in their homes.

“It’s very pleasing that the Federal Government is finally seeking to address this issue,” vice president Craig Hollett said.

“Most people are ecstatic about it, but there are some that are not happy about the decision and don’t want it at all because they were unaffected by the PFAS issue and therefore don’t want to be stuck now with paying water rates.”

Whether all homes in the area will be forced to pay for connection to mains water is unclear but Mr Bacon says the Defence Force should bear the brunt of that cost if there is one.

“We’re having a financial impost put on to us when it’s not our fault the water got contaminated,” he said.

“We moved out here to get off the grid a little bit and so if their answer is to put scheme water through then let them [the Defence Force] pay the rates.

“I understand there are people living off bottled water, but there are other ways around it like a water tank on their property that is filled up with fresh water.

“That would have been a darn sight cheaper.

“Now we’re all going to have to pay for this.”

Mixed response to scheme water promise

Claire Ottaviano

SWAN Mayor Kevin Bailey says the “black cloud” that has covered west Bullsbrook has now been lifted with the promise of scheme water to the groundwater contaminated area.

The water is being delivered as an added bonus to the soon-to-be-built 1000-bed quarantine facility at Pearce airbase.

While not everyone is happy with the move, last week’s Federal Government announcement to connect west Bullsbrook residents to scheme water was a monumental lobbying achievement for the City of Swan, local residents and Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw.

“[Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)] has put a complete stop on everything, because you can’t sell homes, you can’t rent them, no one wants to buy them and it’s depreciated property values,” Mayor Bailey said.

“The long term repercussions will be significant increases in land prices and it takes away the black cloud that’s been PFAS that’s hung over that area for five years.”

He said while community response to the scheme water introduction had been mixed, the long term benefits would outweigh the concerns.

“I think when things settle they’ll see the significant financial benefit long term they’ll get with property prices,” he said.

“There’ll be a lot of confusion short term about paying water rates but the long term picture is a great picture.”

Short term benefits of both the scheme water and quarantine facility included job opportunities for locals and in the long term the possibility to use the facility for bushfire and other disaster relief accommodation.

While no timeline or budget for the water connection has yet been set by the Federal Government, Mayor Bailey estimated costs could be in the tens of millions.

Ms Shaw said as the Department of Defence had acknowledged it contaminated drinking water sources with PFAS, the Commonwealth should take financial responsibility to fix the issue.

“Our whole community welcomes this announcement that the Federal Government will fully fund safe water for west Bullsbrook – however, no resident should be left worse off in the face of these measures,” she said.

“We eagerly await further details from the Federal Government on their plans, however, we expect the Morrison government to keep faith with the people of Bullsbrook and fulfill their responsibilities to rectify damage done by the Department of Defence.”

 

About The Editorial Team

Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

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