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Swan Hills MLA Jessica Shaw speaking her grievances in parliament.

Still no water in Bullsbrook

Rebecca Peppiatt

MEMBER for Swan Hills Jessica Shaw launched a scathing attack on the Federal Government in parliament last week over ongoing water contamination issues in West Bullsbrook.

The State member spoke passionately on September 9 in defence of residents there who, three years after it was found their only water source was contaminated with poisonous firefighting chemicals (pfas) from the nearby Pearce Air Base, were still forced to use packaged water in their homes.

Ms Shaw revealed that West Bullsbrook residents had been “stonewalled”, “bullied” and “harassed” in their quest to have the issue resolved.

“We need an immediate solution,” she said.

“We’ve waited for years and this uncertainty is causing extreme angst across my community.

“Properties have been devalued, banks are failing to provide loans or refinance, my constituents are clearly and very legitimately aggrieved.”

Her comments were aimed at Minister for Water Dave Kelly who responded by placing responsibility in the hands of the Federal Government.

“As a State Government, we accept and support the principle that the polluter should pay,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of the Department of Defence and the Federal Government to clean up the mess that they have made and to find a long term solution for the impacted residents.”

Both Ms Shaw and Mr Kelly claim the solution is a reticulated water system connecting west Bullsbrook to its eastern counterparts.

Mr Kelly said he had been provided with an estimate for the design and delivery of a scheme water expansion that would involve a 2km water main extension from east Bullsbrook to around 130 west Bullsbrook residents.

“I’m informed the cost would be in the order of $6-10 million, a drop in the ocean when you look at the broader defence budget,” he said.

“And estimates suggest a project could be delivered in under a year.”

Mr Kelly said while no commitment had been made by the Federal Government to deliver such a project, he had been given a “glimmer of hope” in the form of a letter from Minister for Defence Andrew Gee to Premier Mark McGowan last month that he was “wanting to engage with the Water Corporation on what a scheme might look like”.

“I hope this is a glimmer of hope that the Government is going to finally acknowledge their responsibilities and work with the State Government to own up as the polluter in these circumstances and pay for reticulated water for the residents,” he said.

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