Mowanjum, Australia

Water Corporation has completed an $8.3 million upgrade to the Mowanjum wastewater treatment plant as part of its new Aboriginal Communities Water Services (ACWS) program, resulting in the state’s first licensed plant in an Aboriginal community.

Mowanjum, near Derby, Western Australia, is the first community to receive improved water infrastructure under the Western Australia Government’s commitment to raise the standard of water services in Aboriginal communities across the state.

The community-led project was delivered by an Aboriginal-owned contractor, Kimberley Civil and Drainage, and involved construction of two new wastewater treatment ponds and relining the existing treatment ponds. The upgrades will enhance the operational and environmental performance of the plant and support future population growth in the community.

Mowanjum, located on Nyikina-Mangala land, is the first major upgrade to be completed since Water Corporation assumed responsibility for water services in 141 Aboriginal communities from the Western Australia Department of Communities earlier this year.

The ten-year (2023-2033) ACWS program will ensure that Aboriginal communities have access to reliable drinking water that meets Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and wastewater services that meet or exceed relevant standards under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

Water Corporation is partnering with Aboriginal communities on all aspects of the ACWS program, including ways to increase opportunities, while contributing to a strong community-controlled sector and improved health outcomes. Engagement has commenced with 32 of the communities to better understand their individual requirements and identify potential improvements.

Commencing in April 2024, Water Corporation will deliver a further $2 million minor works program in Mowanjum, including upgrading a wastewater pump station, pipe renewals, and an irrigation project to create green community spaces that support positive health outcomes.

Western Australia Water Minister, Simone McGurk, said, “Everyone has the right to safe and reliable water services, which is why the Cook Government is committed to ensuring that Aboriginal communities across Western Australia receive water services that meet or exceed the relevant standard under Closing the Gap.

“The upgrades in Mowanjum are the first, important step for this long-term program, which will progressively upgrade water infrastructure in Aboriginal communities over the next ten years.

“By working together with the communities, Water Corporation will not only be improving water services but also helping affect long-term change that improves the health and wellbeing of residents.”

Western Australia Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Tony But, said, “This is a life-changing program by the Western Australia Government to ensure that Aboriginal communities can access safe and reliable drinking water.

“I am very pleased that this program is underway and will deliver a host of benefits to these communities and the bonus is the Mowanjum upgrades were delivered by an Aboriginal contractor, Kimberley Civil and Drainage.

“The initiative supports empowerment, self-determination and wellbeing for Aboriginal people which is in line with the WA Government Aboriginal Empowerment Strategy.”

Western Australia Member for Kimberley, Divina D’Anna, said, “Mowanjum is a wonderful community, and I welcome the government’s investment in its water services.

“Safe, efficient, and reliable water services are a foundation of healthy, sustainable communities. Over the next ten years, Water Corporation’s program will help enhance health and wellbeing outcomes in Aboriginal communities, and further progress our state’s reconciliation journey.”

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