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Scheme water plans announced

HOME owners in west Bullsbrook whose water systems were contaminated with toxic fire-fighting foam six years ago, are still no closer to having safe water servicing their homes.

The Department of Defence this week revealed it could be three more years before a proposed plan to connect the properties to scheme water is realised, and that’s only if a minimum number of households opt in.

Since per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found to have contaminated the water sources of properties near the RAAF Pearce airbase in 2016, 28 homes have been forced to live off bottled water, with others nearby impacted by being unable to sell their homes.

Most properties in the area rely on bores or rainwater tanks for their water source and did not welcome the idea of connecting to mains water because of the costs involved.

First Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure, Dan Frankhauser, however, spoke to residents this week at a community meeting, confirming they would not be out of pocket.

“Defence will fund mains infrastructure connection of properties to mains and access and water usage for at least six years,” he said.

Mr Frankhauser spoke at an emotive meeting on Tuesday fielding questions from frustrated locals, as well as revealing plans to potentially connect 188 west Bullsbrook properties to scheme water coming from Ellenbrook.

“Connection is voluntary,” he said.

“There is a minimum number of houses that need to opt in and if this number is not achieved then it will be detrimental to the water quality and feasibility of the plan.”

Mr Frankhauser, who was joined by representatives from Water Corporation and water engineering company GHD, would not confirm the number of households needed for the plans to go ahead, instead stating the feasibility would also be impacted by the location of those homes.

Community members were sceptical of the news.

“You guys are an absolute disgrace,” said one community member.

“There’s people here riddled with cancer.

“There’s people that bought there that didn’t want town water.”

Others spoke about the lack of transparency from the Department of Defence.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of two-way communication,” another community member said.

“I’d hate to see a great opportunity passed up because of a lack of trust.”

Mr Frankhauser said expression of interest forms were being given to the targeted homes now, with “an accurate picture of how many want to opt in” to be determined by the end of the year.

Work is not due to begin on the scheme water engineering until 2023/2024, with works not likely to be complete until 2025.

By Rebecca Peppiatt

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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