Water works ‘carried out in error’

Water works ‘carried out in error’

Local residents expressed their anger after discovering the destroyed ancient sedges.

Outrage over water investigations undertaken by Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire has continued following responses to community concerns from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER).

Shire President Michelle Rich told the Examiner last week that the shire had sought correct approval prior to commencing water investigation works on Gooralong Brook.

“DWER advised the Shire if the proposed works occurred off-stream, then a permit will not be required for the proposed exploratory works.”

Locals claimed they saw a man in the middle of the creek pumping out water during the investigation.

Ancient sedges were destroyed in the process of investigations.

A spokesperson from the DWER said approvals for work that interferes with a bed or bank of a river couldn’t be granted retrospectively.

“Works that potentially interfere with the bed or banks of a watercourse may require authorisation under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 (RIWI Act),” he said.

“Groundwater investigations may also require a RIWI Act permit to construct or alter a bore and a licence to draw groundwater.”

According to the DWER spokesperson, the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale has not acquired any approvals.

“The Shire contacted the Department in July 2020 regarding the proposed water exploratory work and what permits they would require.  The Department provided appropriate advice,” he said.

“The Department is addressing the matter with the Shire and has been advised that the work was carried out in error and will be rectified.”

Shire President Michelle Rich said after meeting with community members last week the shire has decided to seek further advice on the next steps for the investigation.

“The Shire will be engaging the services of a qualified hydrologist to provide advice on next steps for water investigation in Jarrahdale, including any potential rehabilitation of the site,” Ms Rich said.

“The Shire is committed to working with the community moving forward on this matter.”

DWER advises unauthorised clearing should be reported to Pollution Watch pollutionwatch@dwer.wa.gov.au or 1300 784 782.