Article courtesy of Daniel Mercer | May 28, 2015 | Yahoo News | Shared as educational material
UPDATE: Millions of litres of raw sewage may have been flowing into the ocean off a popular beach in Perth’s southern suburbs for up to two weeks, fuelling concerns it could have made people sick.
Safety Bay resident Sharyn Ward said her husband became violently ill after going for a routine swim off Waikiki Beach on Sunday through an area that was closed this morning because of sewage contamination.
The Water Corporation confirmed late yesterday a failure at a pumping station caused 3.4 million litres of wastewater to spill into Safety Bay near the corner of Malibu Road and Safety Bay Road.
The incident forced the closure of the beach between the Bent Street jetty and View Road and prompted warnings for people to stay out of the water and avoid fishing in the area.
Depending on advice from the Health Department, the closure could stay in place for days.
Although the Water Corp stressed the failure was fixed as soon as it was identified, it acknowledged the spill may have lasted several days.
Mrs Ward said her husband had been suffering vomiting and diarrhoea since swimming in Safety Bay and questioned how an organisation like the Water Corp could have allowed a spill to go undetected for so long.
She also criticised its failure to alert residents sooner.
The comments came as debate flared up over whether State-imposed budget cuts had contributed to the spill, with shadow water minister David Kelly arguing there was a link.
Mr Kelly cited a confidential Water Corp report that was accidentally released last year as evidence, saying it warned that funding reductions were heightening risks of the utility’s assets failing.
“I know the Water Corporation have tried to play it down but whatever way you look at it this is three million litres of raw sewage that’s been flowing into a popular beach,” he said.
“That is completely unacceptable.
“It’s unacceptable because these warnings have been out there for months if not years that the Water Corporation is not getting the resources it needs to properly maintain its assets.”
Water Corp Perth region asset manager Michael Wright said the spill and warnings in the report were in no way connected and noted that “99 per cent” of what leaked was water.
A spokeswoman for the utility said the “exact cause” of the spill was still being investigated.