Residents demand action on sewerage

Residents demand action on sewerage

Kenwick sewerage demand action
Kenwick property owner Terresa Lynes, Simone Perkins and other community members are advocating for deep sewerage in Kenwick. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

Kenwick residents demand action over deep sewerage promised 25 years ago and are still waiting, but the state government said all priority areas have been connected to the wastewater network.

Local resident Simone Perkins sent a letter to council and other community members, asking for help and to demand action for those currently experiencing issues with not having infill sewerage.

The city confirmed that about 110 properties to the east and south of Kenwick’s train station do not have infill sewerage.

City of Gosnells Mayor David Goode said the city has spoken to the state government in regard to the issue.

“The city has strongly advocated for a sewer for this part of Kenwick for a number of years,” he said.

But for Ms Perkins, who owns one of the properties not connected to the wastewater scheme for more than 15 years, addressing this issue is a priority.

In the letter to council, Ms Perkins said that at the time she purchased the property, she was informed by the shire and Water Corporation that the remaining part of Kenwick was on the list to be connected within two to five years.

“Currently, a vast majority of residents and businesses are still using septic tanks, or, in our case, an environmentally friendly sewerage system, which was required to be installed by the City of Gosnells,” Ms Perkins said in the letter.

“Both do not work adequately as the soil in the area is clay. Clay soil, unfortunately, equals poor drainage and the soil becomes water logged.

“During our stay, we have had to replace three pumps, as they continuously become clogged, these cost $1500 per pump.

“The environmental sewerage system uses four separate tanks which fill up, empty and then eventually drain away into the designated lawn area.

“In winter we have a continuous foul smell which is emitted from the tanks when the washing machine is put on and showers have been in use.

“The tanks also overflow and flood our grassed lawn area with sewer water.

“This then runs into our children’s sandpit and play area.

The lack of infill sewerage and the ongoing use of septic tanks, all present a potential threat to public water supplies, public health and the environment, especially as part of Kenwick consist of areas of conservation, such as the wetlands, Canning River or Bickley Brook.”

It is understood that in 2019, two community meetings were held between Kenwick residents, minister for Water Dave Kelly and local member of parliament Stephen Price.

Ms Perkins said Mr Kelly confirmed that there was a study undertaken by the previous Liberal Government, which showed there is a health risk.

“He acknowledged that fact and said the government is now aware and that the previous government should have rectified this after their study,” she said.

Mr Kelly told Examiner Newspapers that the aim of the infill sewerage program, when it began in 1994, was to provide connections to as many residential areas of metropolitan Perth and regional towns as possible, where the use of septic tanks represented a potential threat to public water supplies, public health and the environment.

“The state government invested more than $1 billion through the program and connected approximately 100,000 existing households in Western Australia to wastewater networks, including more than 5000 properties in Kenwick, Beckenham and Maddington,” he said.

“As part of the program, properties on smaller lots and those close to water bodies were prioritised due to them being less suitable for onsite wastewater management.

“The program is now completed and all high priority areas have been connected to the wastewater network.

“A small number of larger blocks, generally over 4000 square metres, were not connected due to substantial costs involved and the ample land available to safely and effectively accommodate well-maintained septic tanks.”

Mr Kelly urged property owners experiencing issues with their septic tanks, to have them professionally examined to avoid potential environmental impacts or health risks.

“Much of the area referred to, is zoned for density development under the City of Gosnells Town Planning Scheme,” he said.

“As with similar developments, the beneficiaries of any increase in land/property value are required to fund necessary infrastructure.

“This includes any future extension of local wastewater networks.”

Mr Kelly confirmed the Water Corporation is supporting the City of Gosnells to encourage the formation of a developer-led contribution scheme that allows landowners and developers to make fair and reasonable contributions to fund such infrastructure.

Mr Kelly also said that the total cost of a new wastewater infrastructure to service the 120 Kenwick lots was estimated at about $7 million.

“A major component of the proposed works is a wastewater crossing under Albany Highway and the Armadale train line,” he said.

“Costing more than $2 million, this part of the project will be funded and built by Water Corporation as part of its growth program and will align with the city’s development.”

You can read about more local news in the Gosnells area here.