Busselton Waste Facility - Groundwater investigations

The Busselton Waste Facility on Rendezvous Road operated as a Class II landfill between the late 1960s and 2012 - accepting mixed household and industrial waste. The facility is now a waste transfer station.

Background

Over time, the waste in the landfill decomposed, creating a liquid (known as leachate) which has impacted groundwater in the locality of Vasse.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER)* first classified the waste facility (as possibly contaminated – investigation required) under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 in July 2007.  

Investigations initially found ammonia and other substances in residential bore water at levels that did not exceed the relevant public health criteria.  

However, in October 2016, more detailed testing found contaminants in several residential bores. Residents at three properties were notified that contaminant levels in their bore water exceeded public health criteria for drinking water and, in some cases, garden irrigation.

Since January 2017, the waste facility has been classified as contaminated – remediation required.

The City of Busselton is required by DWER to take remedial action and carry out further investigations to identify whether additional properties’ bore water sources are affected. See the City of Busselton's website for information on the groundwater investigation and a map of the area involved.

Note: Water from household taps (scheme water) is not affected.

Throughout Western Australia, the Department of Health (DoH) advises untested and untreated bore water should never be used for drinking, bathing or filling swimming pools and children should not play under bore water sprinklers. 

Owners and residents within the affected area should continue to follow precautionary advice provided by the City of Busselton regarding the use of groundwater from private bores and the consumption of home-grown produce potentially exposed to this bore water. 

The City of Busselton has constructed a water main along Rendezvous Road and all affected properties now have access to scheme water. 

* The former Department of Environment Regulation amalgamated on 1 July 2017 with the Department of Water and the Office of the Environmental Protection Authority, forming the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

What is happening now?

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As required by DWER, the City of Busselton's environmental consultant undertook further investigations and risk assessment between 2018 and 2021, to determine the extent of groundwater contamination. This included further testing of private water supplies (such as bores, wells, soaks and dams) and explaining results to residents.

The City also engaged an accredited contaminated sites auditor to oversee the investigation and risk assessment program. The auditor’s assessment of these works is detailed in a series of mandatory auditor's reports, the most recent of which was received by DWER in January 2021.

The extent of groundwater contamination is now well-defined, and the City’s environmental consultant is currently developing options to manage the groundwater contamination. These options will be reviewed by the auditor and DWER. The auditor expects to submit a further mandatory auditor's report to DWER in mid-2022.

DWER continues to liaise with the City of Busselton and the auditor to ensure information is provided to affected residents, and action to investigate and manage the contamination is being taken as quickly as possible.

More information

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See the City of Busselton's website for information on the groundwater investigation and a map of the area involved.

DWER will update this page as new information comes to hand. If you have queries or would like more information, call the Contaminated Sites hotline on 1300 762 982.

Department of Health's information on using bore water safely.

DWER's fact sheet Contaminated groundwater — could my garden bore be affected?

 

Updated May 2022

Page reviewed 17 June 2022