Anger over dam work

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
WA Water Userss Coalition vice-chairman John Kilrain called for a halt on geotechnical investigations until summer.
Camera IconWA Water Userss Coalition vice-chairman John Kilrain called for a halt on geotechnical investigations until summer. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Geotechnical investigations have begun at the proposed site for the Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme dam at Record Brook, part of the $70 million project which aims to safeguard Manjimup’s irrigation water supply.

Work began on June 8 to create tracks in the forest to allow geotechnical surveys to occur at the site.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is responsible for the contractors conducting investigations at the site.

“All necessary permits were acquired, including a fauna assessment and a dieback management plan, before the works were undertaken,” a department spokeswoman said.

“Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions were in regular contact over the course of the works.”

WA Water Users Coalition vice-chairman John Kilrain said investigations should have begun during summer, to minimise the risk of spreading dieback via soil stuck to vehicles, as well as site erosion.

“It’s a total disregard for the environment, they’ve had the permit, they could have done it during summer,” he said.

“To leave it until winter time to take that work on was crazy and shows a lack of respect for the environment.

“They should cease all works until summer.”

One of the concerns raised by opponents of the scheme on social media, was that investigations began prior to Environmental Protection Authority approval of the whole project, a suggestion dismissed by the department’s spokeswoman.

“Investigatory works of this nature do not require Environmental Protection Authority approval and are allowable under the EPA’s Environmental Impact Assessment procedures manual,” she said.

A department spokeswoman said the amount of forest cleared to allow the investigations to occur was 2ha.

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