Upgraded water services are being welcomed in three remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley region thanks to a new initiative between the Department of Communities and the Water Corporation.
The Western Australian Government has funded the $23 million initiative through the Essential and Municipal Services Upgrade Program.
The initiative, which will see the Water Corporation become the licensed water service provider for the communities of Mowanjum, Bayulu and Bidyadanga, is consistent with the ‘Leaving no one behind’ theme of World Water Day, celebrated on Friday 22 March.
The Water Corporation will upgrade water and wastewater facilities in each community and supply ongoing water services in the first community, Mowanjum, by mid-2020. Bayulu and Bidyadanga will follow.
Community residents will have reliable drinking water that meets Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and wastewater services that meet industry standards. The work will also create a range of employment opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses.
An initial ten communities will participate in the program, and funding for improvements will be sequenced over time to progressively bring essential services to remote Aboriginal communities up to minimum standards.
Housing Minister, Peter Tinley, said, “The delivery of improved drinking water and wastewater services is great news for these communities, and is a concrete example of the McGowan Government’s support for remote communities.
“The delivery of reliable and safe services will improve health and wellbeing, and will also create new job opportunities and help more people remain on country.
“When the Water Corporation becomes the service provider for these first three communities, residents will have access to the same service standards enjoyed by other Western Australians.”
Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “The McGowan Government is ensuring the delivery of essential utility services, including water, to rural, regional and remote communities.
“Many of us take access to clean, fresh drinking water for granted. So it is pleasing to announce this agreement on World Water Day – a time when we reflect on the importance of the availability and management of safe water supplies.
“Improving water infrastructure in WA’s remote communities is a key priority for the Water Corporation and was outlined in its recently released 2019-20 Reconciliation Action Plan.
“It is another positive step forward in WA’s reconciliation journey and means that Aboriginal people in these communities are closer to equal participation in the full range of life’s opportunities.”
Lauren Butler is the assistant editor for Utility Magazine. She’s based in Melbourne, Australia.