Emergency water upgrades dampen remote bushfire risks

  • Emergency water supply upgrades in the Shire of Jerramungup complete
  • Grant of $46,282 provided to the Shire through the Rural Water Planning program
  • The McGowan Government plans to spend $28.5 million in 2018-19 for water works in the Great Southern region

A major project to upgrade emergency water supplies in a remote Great Southern community, declared ‘undefendable’ from catastrophic bushfires six years ago, is now complete.

In 2012, the Point Henry community was forced to evacuate due to an out-of-control bushfire, similar to a blaze a decade earlier that razed the growing residential subdivision on an isolated peninsula 10 kilometres south of the coastal hamlet of Bremer Bay.

With the area continuing to be identified as an extreme bushfire risk by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, a partnership between the State Government and the Shire of Jerramungup has increased emergency water supply capacity to more than 400,000 litres -enough to fill about 10 backyard swimming pools.

The McGowan Government provided a $46,282 grant through the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Rural Water Planning program, and the Shire provided $25,000 towards the project which started in October 2017. The project included:

  • The replacement of a 20,000 litre water tank in Point Henry with two new 135,000 litre tanks;
  • Installation of a 135,000 litre tank at the Jerramungup airstrip; and
  • Installation of a bore pump to the tank at the Bremer Bay airstrip for rapid re-filling of aerial firebombers and fire trucks.

These strategic emergency water supply upgrades complement a $66,000 grant from the McGowan Government’s $15 million Mitigation Activity Fund for the Shire to treat a further 42 bushfire risks in the area.

This included the Jerramungup and Bremer Bay townsites and surrounding Fitzgerald River National Park, which forms part of the recently expanded 1.5 million hectares of conservation estate, State waters, farmland, and industrial and urban areas recognised globally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

The State Government also recently completed a $1.7 million water project to increase the water supply scheme in the coastal holiday town of Bremer Bay by about 30 per cent.

As stated by Water Minister Dave Kelly:

“This strategic emergency water supply could help save lives by supporting firefighting in and around the popular holiday destination town of Bremer Bay.

“The extra water tank at the Jerramungup airstrip will greatly improve the capacity of water bombers in the northern end of the Shire, including the Jerramungup townsite and extending into Fitzgerald River National Park.

“The installation of a solar pump to the water tank at Bremer Bay airstrip will also improve water bomber refill time, which will support the ground crews in Point Henry as well as provide greater protection from fire for the Bremer Bay townsite and surrounds.”

As stated by Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan:

“The Shire of Jerramungup and locals in Bremer Bay and surrounds have done a great job improving bushfire safety in the region over many years.

“Only a few months ago I saw for myself the work that’s going on to protect Bremer Bay and Point Henry, so I’m pleased that the McGowan Labor Government has been able to provide more support for the volunteer emergency services in the region.

“Not only is this Government working hard to improve response capabilities, but we have also committed record funding in mitigation efforts to try to reduce the threat of catastrophic bushfires and to try to take the pressure off our emergency services volunteers.”

As stated by Albany MLA Peter Watson:

“I congratulate the Shire of Jerramungup on the work they have done to achieve this significant boost to their firefighting resources – a great outcome that has been very well received by the Bremer Bay community.

“This project shows the McGowan Labor Government’s commitment to implementing meaningful, value-for-money projects in regional Western Australia.”

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