City of Mandurah's Tims Thicket waste plant upgrade raises water pollution concerns

Toxic waste could potentially contaminate residential bore water in Bouvard, if City of Mandurah plans to establish a waste water spraying field in Tims Thicket get the green light.

The proposal seeks to upgrade the existing Tims Thicket waste management facility –  which has been operating on the site since 1995 – and incorporate a treated waste water spraying field.

If the proposal receives the go-ahead, the waste water from the existing sewage treatment ponds would be sprayed over an irrigation area to be soaked away.

However, the proposed spray field is to be located in an old hard waste site, where gas bottles, white goods, metals, chemical drums, batteries and asbestos were buried in the late 1990s.

Due to the highly porous nature of the area’s Tamala limestone soil, the proposal has sparked concerns among local residents and environmental groups who are worried the waste water could pollute the local aquifers.

“Passing large quantities of water through this waste raises the risk that contaminants such as heavy metals, toxic chemicals and asbestos fibers may leach out into the water and seep down into the aquifer bellow,” local environmental group Bouvard Coast Care said.

“The problem is residential bores also take a supply from this aquifer to use as irrigation for fruit and vegetables and animal watering.”

The site is also located in close proximity to environmentally sensitive areas, including Yalgorup National Park, the Peel Inlet  and Lake Clifton.

Bouvard Coast Care is now leading a push to bring the issue to the attention of other residents before the project is finalised. 

Group chairperson Mel Horton said the upcoming October elections were the perfect opportunity for residents to have a say and address the issue. 

“If enough of us register our concern then we can ask which prospective councillors will back our cause so we can vote for them to enact change,” she said.

“We want everyone to be informed of the issues, aware of the dangers and represented by councillors that care.”

The upgrade of the Tim’s Thicket waste facility was first approved by the City of Mandurah in 2015. 

“Since that time, the City has been liaising with the Department of Environment Regulation (DER) and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to obtain the necessary environmental approvals,” City of Mandurah chief Mark Newman said.

He also said the City was aware of the concerns raised by Bouvard Coast Care group members and he said senior officers had contacted the group to arrange a meeting and discuss their concerns.

The Tims Thicket waste facility upgrade is yet to receive the necessary approvals from the DER and the EPA, however it is anticipated a resolution will be announced in the next few months. 

An EPA spokesperson said the the EPA would continue to liaise with community groups and industry representatives until an assessment report was presented to environment minister Stephen Dawson for consideration.

For more information about Bouvard Coast Care and their campaign go to bouvardcoastcare.org.au.