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.
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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.  

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) first classified the waste facility (as possibly contaminated – investigation required) under the Contaminated Sites Act 2003 (CS Act) in July 2007. Since January 2017, the waste facility has been classified as contaminated - remediation required.

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 associated with landfill leachate 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.

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, and recommendations for the appropriate management of groundwater, are detailed in a series of mandatory auditor's reports, the most recent of which was received by DWER in June 2022.

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

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

Throughout Western Australia, the Department of Health 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. 

What is happening now?

The extent of groundwater contamination is now well understood, and on 13 April 2023, DWER classified 50 properties to the north and west of the closed landfill as remediated for restricted use under the CS Act. The classifications include restrictions outlining safe uses of superficial groundwater at some of the affected properties. At other properties, superficial groundwater is not suitable for any use. DWER has written to all property owners, informing them of the classification and their restrictions on use.

Information about land classified as remediated for restricted use, including information on the nature of the contaminants in groundwater and the restrictions that apply to groundwater use, can also be accessed through DWER’s Contaminated Sites Database.

The City of Busselton’s consultants will continue to monitor groundwater in the affected area in accordance with an auditor-approved Groundwater Monitoring and Management Plan. Ongoing investigations are expected to inform management and remediation options for the closed landfill site.

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

More information

See the City of Busselton’s website for information on the groundwater investigations.

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?