DEFENCE has agreed to bankroll unlimited access to clean water for all Williamtown residents for three years, an announcement lauded as a “massive relief” by people stranded in the contamination red zone.
Williamtown in NSW is one of many military bases like Tindal RAAF Base which has been leaking PFAS chemicals into the local water supply.
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that some residents have been facing skyrocketing water bills, as a result of being forced to abandon the toxic bores on their rural properties.
Read more: Government moves toward $39 million PFOS ban
However only the 30 per cent of property owners that already had a town water connection when the contamination was announced – in September 2015 – have been stung.
Households connected to the town water network since then were promised their water bills would be paid by Defence for three years.
The Katherine Times has asked Power and Water NT and the Defence Department whether the same bill payments would be extended to Katherine residents forced to abandon their bores.
The bill inequality sparked outcry, but on Wednesday night at a Community Reference Group meeting, Defence announced it would extend the funding to all Williamtown residents.
The president of the Williamtown and Surrounds Residents Action Group, Cain Gorfine, described it as “absolutely fantastic” news.
“It will come as a massive relief to those residents of Cabbage Tree Road and Nelson Bay Road who were originally forgotten about in Defence’s water reticulation plan,” he said.
Mr Gorfine said many of the affected properties were in the newly established primary management zone, where contamination has been discovered hundreds of times over the safe level.
“It will mean those families can now enjoy a more normal existence, even if it is only for a short while. Hopefully it is a sign that Defence and the government are finally recognising worldwide scientific consensus, including the US EPA and Harvard University, that these chemicals are harmful to human and animal health.”