Mindarie residents call on City of Wanneroo for help to find solution to water quality problem at marina

Mindarie residents Tony Warwick, Bea Marshall (4), Karen Marshall, Ian Farrall and Trevor Smitham.  Picture: Martin Kennealey  d466561
Mindarie residents Tony Warwick, Bea Marshall (4), Karen Marshall, Ian Farrall and Trevor Smitham. Picture: Martin Kennealey d466561

MINDARIE residents are concerned about the water quality at the marina and want the City of Wanneroo to help them find a solution.

An algal bloom was reported at the marina on December 16, with the Department of Health issuing a warning for people to avoid contact with the water.

Four days later, the Water Corporation responded to a wastewater overflow on Rosslare Promenade, near the area known as the ‘kiddie’s beach’.

The health warning was lifted on January 16 but Tony Warwick and more than 60 fellow residents were concerned with the length of time it took for the bloom to clear and believed the response and warning signage in place was inadequate.

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“I personally had to stop on Christmas Day and point out to families who had little children and toddlers in the water at the kiddies beach the signs,” he said.

“To say they were extremely concerned would be an understatement.

“It took five weeks for the marina to flush and get back to normal.”

Water Corporation regional manager Garth Walter said the wastewater overflow, which is 99.97 per cent water and comes mostly from showers, baths and washing machines, was caused by a broken pipe.

“The wastewater saturated a grassed verge area and some flowed into the nearby Mindarie marina,” he said.

“Crews stopped the overflow quickly and repaired the break on the wastewater main the same evening.

“The area was cleaned and disinfected, with signs temporarily erected in the area that evening, advising not to come in contact with the water.”

He said wastewater overflows occurred occasionally so pipes were monitored, and breaks could be caused by material and location of the pipe, age, soil types, nearby construction or tree roots.

Mr Warwick believed the marina was not flushing as well as it used to and wanted investigation into options to prevent it from happening again.

He said part of the problem was confusion over which agency was responsible, as the marina is privately managed on land owned by the Department of Transport (DoT).

“We need someone to connect and co-ordinate,” he said.

“Our view is the council is the one to collect rates from the area, we think they should be accountable to us. Even if it’s not their responsibility at the end of the day, they should at least be assisting or talking to us and guide us through.

“I’d like to think in the first instance City representatives sit down with residents and talk about issues and try to determine some strategies to address issues.”

City planning and sustainability director Mark Dickson said the public health response was managed by it and the Department of Health.

He acknowledged the City had received inquiries from residents, then State Environment Minister Albert Jacob and Pearce Federal MP Christian Porter.

“During periods of high rainfall, large volumes of stormwater will percolate into oceans and water bodies, introducing high concentrations of nutrients that may stimulate algal blooms if conditions for growth are favourable,” he said.

“In order to reduce the potential for algal blooms in the future, Mayor Tracey Roberts has written to the Minister for Transport highlighting residents’ concerns and requesting the DoT develop a water quality management plan and consider installing a mechanism to promote water movement and flushing.

“These initiatives will help to address community concerns and improve water quality at the marina.”

Mr Dickson said managing the marina’s water quality was the Transport Department’s responsibility and the City would continue to advocate for improvements.

“The Department of Health has recommended that staff employed by The Marina, Mindarie and City of Wanneroo environmental health officers continue to perform regular visual assessments to identify any changes in water quality,” he said.

“If an algal bloom is identified in the future, temporary signs will be installed to warn the public that contact with the water is unsafe.”