The impacts of communities on the surrounding land and water resources of the Ord River catchment need to be managed and minimised.
Many of the strategies in this section are aimed at encouraging the local community to take responsibility for these impacts and try to reduce them. It is important to highlight that the local residents have a responsibility for improving the management of town related impacts. The Shires of Halls Creek and Wyndham East Kimberley have a responsibility for leading and supporting improved management of rubbish tips, town drainage and taking a lead role with land use planning.
The Water Corporation is responsible to the community to ensure that Waste Water Treatment Plants have a minimal impact on the environment, residents and water users and that the health of members of the community is not compromised by their management of the facility.
To ensure that recommendations from the Kununurra Wyndham Area Development Strategy are adhered to for the time frame of the plan (25yrs) and that any changes to this and other town planning schemes only occur through due process.
To ensure that local planning strategies and schemes are conducive to sustainable natural resource management.
The Department of Planning has state-wide responsibility for planning for future communities. The Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) operates with the support of the Department of Planning and is the statutory authority with State-wide responsibilities for urban, rural and regional land use planning and land development. It responds to the strategic direction of government and is responsible for the strategic planning of the State.
The WAPC has responsibility for decision-making and a significant level of funding while the Department of Planning provides the human resources and professional advice.
Landcorpp operates at a state-wide level, its role is to identify, design and implement major land and infrastructure projects.
Department of Housing is involved in land development, housing construction and property management as an affordable housing provider.
Halls Creek, Wyndham and Kununurra are all subject to their Shire’s Town Planning Schemes. The Kununurra Wyndham Area Development Strategy guides the locations of new/different land uses, where subdivisions can occur, as well as planning for locations of future developments within its region.
The Urban Development Program coordinates and promotes the development of serviced land for state infrastructure agencies, public utilities, local governments and the private sector. The program tracks land demand and supply and proposed development and infrastructure in Western Australia. The Department of Planning prepares the Urban Development Program for the Western Australian Planning Commission’s Infrastructure Coordinating Committee to support decision-making about urban development and the provision of services to the community. The program encompasses the former Metropolitan Development Program, Country Land Development Program and the Industrial Land Development Program. It also relates to strategic planning for future land supply such as the Industrial Land Strategy and is an implementation tool for Directions 2031 and Beyond.
There are two Western Australian Local Governments in the Ord Catchment, Shires of Halls Creek and Wyndham East Kimberley. There are three towns in the catchment; Kununurra, Wyndham and Halls Creek a larger Aboriginal Community; Warmun and numerous smaller Aboriginal communities within the Ord Catchment.
There are three local planning schemes that operate under the Kimberley Planning Framework for the region they are:
Shire of Halls Creek Town Planning Scheme No 1 District Scheme 1991
Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley Town Planning Scheme No 6 Text Wyndham Townsite 1994
Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley Town Planning Scheme No 7 Text Kununurra and Environs 2001
The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley is currently preparing a Local Planning Scheme which will cover the whole Shire and supersede Town Planning Schemes No 6 and No 7.
These planning schemes set the statutory direction for future land development in the respective Shires. They address the scale and distribution of future population growth and housing development, as well as identifying strategies for dealing with economic growth, environmental issues, transport, infrastructure, water resources, tourism and emerging impacts of climate change.
The Kununurra Wyndham Area Development Strategy guides the locations of new/different land uses, where subdivisions can occur, as well as planning for locations of future developments within that region.
The Department of Planning manages the Planning for the Aboriginal Communities Program on behalf of the WAPC. The Program provides a town planning service to Aboriginal communities in accordance with State Planning Policy.
The primary purpose of the Program is to prepare Community Layout Plans for Aboriginal Communities. Housing Services Plans are also prepared for selected Communities, as agreed by both the Departments of Planning and Housing. Unlike Community Layout Plans, Housing Services Plans are not statutory planning instruments.Aboriginal Settlement Guidelines have been developed that provide guidance on the development of land and to promote the development of housing and infrastructure on Aboriginal settlements targeted to Aboriginal needs.
Community participation in land use planning by:
1. Informing the community about the benefits of well planned development to reduce confusion and frustration often expressed during plan development and review.
2. Ensuring consultation with key community groups as well as informed individuals.
3. Ensuring adequate levels of advertising to provide the community with sufficient information to enable constructive participation in plan development and implementation.
The Shires of Halls Creek and Wyndham East Kimberley play a lead local role in land use planning. The Department of Planning and the Western Australian Planning Commission are responsible for planning at the State level. Landcorp is responsible for planning and developing land sustainably across the state.References
1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.
2. Planning Western Australia. (2014) Urban Development Plan 2014, Plans and Policies 2014: /www.planning.wa.gov.au/.
3. Department of Planning/Housing. (2012) Aboriginal Settlements Guideline 1, Layout Plan Provisions July 2012: http://www.planning.wa.gov.au.
4. Department of Planning/Housing. (2012) Aboriginal Settlements Guideline 2: Provision of Housing and Infrastructure July 2012: http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/
5. Landcorp. (2013) Strategic Development Plan: http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/
6. Kununurra Wyndham Area Development Strategy Steering Committee. (1999) Kununurra-Wyndham Area Development Strategy: Western Australian Planning Commission.
To ensure that appropriate waste water treatment infrastructure is developed to meet the needs of projected population increases in towns and communities over the next twenty years.
To develop strategies to work with the community on water efficiency.
To ensure that all management information and monitoring data is freely and publicly available.
To have deep sewerage available to 100% of all residential town sites; Kununurra, Halls Creek and Wyndham.
To ensure that no waste water effluent enters the Ord River irrigation supply channels or natural waterways.
The Water Corporation manages the Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs) in Halls Creek, Kununurra and Wyndham. In smaller communities management is the responsibility of the relevant managing entities. Treatment plants are usually made up of a series of ponds that treat waste water from the town sites. Pond treated effluent is pumped into a number of end points for disposal or reuse. In Halls Creek the final disposal point is the evaporation pond, in Wyndham the final disposal point is the tidal flats and in Kununurra the final disposal point is the M1 channel that delivers irrigation water to farms.
The Kununurra plant is designed to service an estimated population of 7,350 people and is currently running at 74% capacity. The Weaber Plains light industrial area, and some of the Ivanhoe Industrial area rely on septic systems. Halls Creek treatment plant usage is approximately 450 kilo litres/day and is currently running at about 25% capacity.Current Knowledge
The Water Corporation has a license from the Department of Environment Regulation that enables it to discharge water into the environment from each treatment plant. This license includes a number of requirements specific to the plant and is provided under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (Department of Environmental Protection, WA, 1996).
These specific requirements include, but are not limited to:
There is no loss of wastewater through seepage or by overflow from rainfall events and no vegetation is allowed to grow on the inner banks of the ponds or pond surfaces.
Monthly flow volumes from the site must be measured.
A sampling point downstream of chlorination and on the treatment plant outlet pipe must be maintained (Kununurra).
Regular water quality sampling of treated wastewater being discharged from the sites. Sampling to be conducted in accordance with Australian Standard 5667.10 and collected and preserved in accordance with Australian Standard 5667.1, 5667.4 or 5667.6 and 2031.
Sample results are freely available to the public. In addition to the specific requirements there are also requirements for the removal and onsite storage of sludge (bio-solids) from the ponds. The Water Corporation is required to comply with the Department of Environment and Conservation Western Australian Guidelines for Biosolids Management (December 2012), stipulating drying times, removal, on site storage, testing and disposal (Department of Environment and Conservation, WA, 2012).
As the WWTP at Halls Creek does not directly discharge to a water way or any ‘sensitive environment’ the Water Corporation is not required to undertake the same sampling regime as applies at the Kununurra WWTP.Kununurra WWTP
The Kununurra Waste Water Treatment Plant uses the M1 channel as its end point disposal for treated water. This has raised ongoing concerns from the Kununurra Community and downstream Irrigators in terms of a) the potential for faecal contaminates to impact on people’s health and b) extra Nitrogen and Phosphorous accelerating plant growth in the delivery channel thereby impeding delivery efficiencies. The concerns arose because the water in the M1 channel (1 km downstream of the outfall) is used to irrigate areas of the town and a school and a caravan park grounds. Additionally, farmers are constantly in contact with the water while irrigating crops.
Following community pressure in 1998 work was undertaken to reduce the impact of treated wastewater discharged into the M1 Channel. This work included the fitting of a diffuser to the outlet and chlorinating the waste water.
Of note is that the Health Department of WA does not consider the M1 channel to be a wastewater recycling scheme. The Guidelines for the Non-potable Uses of Recycling Water in Western Australia 2011 apply to direct reuse of treated wastewater, however, the water leaving the WWTP is diluted in the M1 Channel and there are no guidelines for levels in diluted water. The Health Department suggests as a precaution that the reclaimed water guidelines should apply to all users taking water from the M1 Channel within 6 km downstream of the discharge point.
The acceptable levels of Escherichia coli for using the water to flood irrigate crops is 1000 cfu/100ml. From the data provided by the Water Corporation the biggest problems occur at the time of the year when irrigation water demand is low (October to March) when treated wastewater entering the channel is not well diluted. The Water Corporation undertakes flushing of the M1 Channel at the end of the wet season prior to the irrigation season to improve water quality.
The water in the channel is tested monthly for thermotolerant coliforms (Enterococci sp. and Escherichia coli) helminth ova, phosphorus and nitrogen. These samples are gathered by the Water Corporation and sent to independent NATA accredited laboratories for analysis. This data is then made available to the public on request and reported annually to the Department of Environment Regulation.
The Water Corporation proposes to adopt the ANZEC/ARMCANZ 2000 Water Quality for Irrigation and General Use Guidelines as a means to improve waste water quality when the water is used for irrigation purposes. However during the wet season no guidelines will be adopted for the periodical flushes to remove stagnate water and treated wastewater after ‘no flow’ periods as the frequency of flushing events is considered by the Water Corporation to be very low.Halls Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant
The Halls Creek waste water treatment plant is located within the Priority 1 protection area of the Halls Creek water reserve, less than 500 metres from some bores. The depth to the water table near these bores is about 50 metres. The treatment plant consists of two primary treatment and two polishing ponds in addition to an evaporation pond.
The treatment system could potentially pose a contamination risk to groundwater from pond and pipe leakages and system overflows. The evaporation pond has been sized to contain rainfall runoff generated by a 1 in 50-year storm as well as normal plant operations. Before the construction of the evaporation pond, treated effluent was discharged via an excavated channel to an ephemeral watercourse.A geotechnical investigation was undertaken in 1997 to determine any impacts the treatment plant might have on groundwater quality in the area. It was determined that, while groundwater flow occurred towards the production wells, there was no evidence of any seepage from the ponds reaching the groundwater. Therefore it was considered the operation of the plant posed little or no risk to water resources because the ponds were constructed using impermeable clay and the potential for any leakage reaching the depth of the water table was considered to be small.
Groundwater quality monitoring is undertaken as a condition of the Department of Environmental Protection’s license for the treatment plant.Projects under way
The Water Corporation completed the Kununurra Waste Water Scheme Planning in February 2013. Options investigated included: continue the discharge to the M1 Channel, woodlot irrigation, evaporation ponds, infiltration and the use of recycled water for irrigation.
A project to increase the Kununurra Waste Water Treatment Plant capacity to 2.7ML/d commenced in August 2013 and is expected to be completed by 2017.Knowledge Gaps
The health effects of coming into contact with irrigation water containing effluent waste water.
The effects on Kununurra’s septic tank systems from a combination of rising water tables and a wet season ground water mound.
Reduce the impacts of the Waste Water Treatment Plant on downstream water users by:
Ceasing the discharge of treated wastewater into the M1 Channel and working with key stakeholders to identify appropriate options to remove treated wastewater from the MI Channel.Strategy 2
Monitor the impacts of the Waste Water Treatment Plant on downstream users by:
1. Regularly sampling for nutrient and biological factors.
2. With end user practices in mind, determining what the guidelines for microbiological activity in the M1 Channel water should be.Strategy 3
Monitor the impact of Waste Water Treatment Plants on their immediate area by:
1. Regularly sampling ground water for changes in levels and nutrients using piezometers around the waste water treatment facility
2. Recording complaints about odours from the WWTP.
3. Work with local Health Service providers to ascertain any correlation between contact with treated waste water in the irrigation system and health issues.Strategy 4
Reduce the impact of waste water on ground water by:
1. Providing a deep sewerage service for eligible town areas that are currently not connected and dependent on septic systems and leach drains.
2. Encourage the use of Aerobic Treatment Units (ATU) as an alternative for septic systems where septic systems have proven to be unsuitable.Strategy 5
Ensure awareness and understanding within the Community about the local Waste Water Treatment Plants and related issues by:
1. Ensuring that the information that is derived from the strategies above publicly available.Responsibilities
The Water Corporation has responsibility for managing WWTP and their impacts. The Department of Environmental Regulation has responsibility as the regulator. The Shires have responsibility to undertake monthly water quality sampling and should operate the Shire’s irrigation scheme in accordance with Guidelines for the Non-potable Uses of Recycling Water in Western Australia 2011. The Community also has a responsibility to ensure that it uses the information that is provided, to remain informed about the issue.References
1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.
2. Water Corporation (1999) Kununurra Waste Water Treatment Plant – Options for Treated Waste water Disposal, August 1999. Water Corporation Infrastructure Branch.
3. Department of Environmental Protection, WA. (1998) License - Kununurra Waste Water Treatment Plant, License No. 6270/2, Environmental Protection Act 1986.
4. Water and Rivers Commission. (2002) Halls Creek Water Reserve Water Source Protection Plan: Department of Water WRP no. 48 reviewed 2012.
5. Water Corporation. (1999) Kununurra Waste Water Treatment Plant – Options for Treated Waste water Disposal, August 1999: Water Corporation Infrastructure Branch.
6. Dupe, R.G., Lund, A. & Ranford, S. (1998) A Short-term Assessment of Point Source Pollution in the M1 Irrigation Supply Channel with Notes on Agricultural Discharge into the Lower Ord River: Centre for Ecosystem Management.
7. Water Corporation. (2014) Kununurra Waste Water Treatment Plant – Water Corporation Response to License L6270IR1, 3 and 4.
To ensure that inputs to and outputs from land fill sites are managed to Department of Environment Regulation standards.
To identify the most relevant sites for long term waste disposal.
To educate the community about reducing, reusing and recycling waste.
To advocate for a regional based material recycling facility.
To advocate for the use of local waste recycling.
To advocate that industry complies with waste management legislation with regard to land fill sites.
To advocate that Shires develop and maintain cyclone clean up strategies.
Major landfill sites are located adjacent to the towns of Halls Creek, Kununurra and Wyndham. There are also numerous landfill sites scattered across the catchment in communities, pastoral stations and mine sites. All of the town sites are licensed through the Department of Environment Regulation but some of the smaller sites may not be.
There are two types of landfill sites under legislation, licensed landfill sites and registered landfill sites. Kununurra and Halls Creek have licensed landfill sites that must comply with licence conditions as provided on the respective licence under section 58(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986. Wyndham has a registered landfill site that must comply with the Environmental Protection (Rural Landfill) Regulations 2002.
The Halls Creek, Kununurra and Wyndham sites are owned and operated by their respective Shires. The Warmun landfill site has been closed to the general public since 2013. The Community determines who can access the landfill site. Annual tonnages received at the Kununurra Landfill site (2014) were 24,000, tonnes of which 3,200 tonnes was recycled. Halls Creek Landfill received annually (2009) 7,600 tonnes of which none was categorised as having been recycled.
The Halls Creek site is expected to be large enough to accommodate the town’s needs for at least the next 50 years. Additionally, the planned introduction of recycling for cans, heavy metals, oil and green waste will increase the life of the site (Halls Creek Land Planning Strategy 2006). The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley recently developed a Waste Strategy Plan that has identified major funding is required for future landfill site decommissioning (Kununurra & Wyndham) and establishment of a new facility for Kununurra and a new transfer station for Wyndham. (Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley Strategic Community Plan 2012 – 2022).
The Regional Waste Management Plan 2013 Kimberley Region
All Kimberley Shires agreed to produce a Regional Waste Management Plan in 2009. Since then the Shires have been cooperating on regional waste management initiatives. The plan was reviewed and updated in 2013 to address the issues of:
Lack of formalised procedures for inter-shire communication, cooperation and collaboration.
Lack of a regional funding mechanism.
No dedicated ‘regional’ staff.
Findings of the review were that:
The Shires lack a mechanism to fund regional waste initiatives.
Most of the officers responsible for waste management in the region are not dedicated to waste management and are also responsible for a wide range of other duties.
Waste data collection is inconsistent across the region and inconsistent with industry standards. It also does not fully meet reporting requirements (such as annual Local Government Waste census)
These key findings provided the basis for the development of the implementation plan currently being adopted by the four regional Shires.
There are some minor recycling policy differences between Halls Creek and the Wyndham East Kimberley Shires. However, the overarching issue of distance of travel to recycling centres dictates which materials can be recycled within the means of each Shire and its ratepayers.
Used oil can be recycled or refined into products for which there are environmentally sound markets. Most of the companies that provide oil have a responsibility to take back used oil. The Halls Creek landfill site does not currently take oil but Kununurra and Wyndham sites do with the oil being transported to Darwin for reprocessing.
The major difficulty with recycling glass, aluminium and other household products is the cost of transporting the recyclable products to an area where they can be recycled. Bails are supplied at the Kununurra landfill site for the collection and recycling of aluminium cans.
Both Shires encourage residents to recycle their green waste, as green waste makes up a significant proportion of landfill intake due to the prolific vegetative growth. Developing compost from lawn clippings and other household products reduces the load on landfill sites and goes towards creating an environmentally healthy garden product. However, previous attempts at creating compost from the green waste collected at Kununurra landfill site have encountered problems with foreign bodies in the waste.
There is a Drum Muster program in place at the Kununurra landfill site. This involves the collection and recycling of agricultural chemical containers. The program is designed to be cash neutral and is funded by a levy on chemical drums purchased. It involves the provision of a collection point for clean containers for subsequent recycling or reuse.
Other items are recycled in one or both Shires, these include but are not limited to: car bodies and other metal products, vehicle batteries, computer tonners and cartridges, mobile phones and accessories and electronic waste. Tyres are currently buried in a dedicated location for recycling for when it is economically to do so.
What is actually dumped at unlicensed/unattended landfill sites?
Is there any adverse off site impacts e.g. ground water contamination from landfill sites?
Reduce the risk of adverse effects from illegal dumping of rubbish by:
1. Reducing the costs of taking rubbish to the tip to residents.
2. Advocate that Shires develop and maintain cyclone clean up strategies.
3. Support initiatives that enhance waste management in Aboriginal communities.
Reduce the amount of waste being generated by:
1. Recycling green waste, plastics, glass and aluminium.
2. Reusing glass, aluminium, plastic and paper.
3. Advocate for a green waste recycling/composting facility.
Increase the level of education and awareness about waste related issues by:
1. Encouraging educational programs for local schools and community groups.
2. Utilising better existing newsletters and media outlets.
3. Investigating other avenues for awareness raising across cultural boundaries.Responsibilities
The Shires, communities and landholders play a lead role in managing waste in the area. It is therefore the responsibility of the Shires and the residents (ratepayers) to support improvements in the management of waste in the area and awareness raising projects.
1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.
2. Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley. (2012) Strategic Community Plan 2012 – 2022: Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley.
3. Department of Planning. (2006) Halls Creek Land Planning Strategy: www.planning.wa.gov.au
4. The Department of Planning. (2013) Regional Waste Management Plan 2013 Kimberley Region: ASK Waste Management Consultancy Services.
5. Australian Institute of Petroleum Ltd. (1996) Code of Practice for The Management of Used Oil: http://www.aip.com.au/.
6. Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley (2000) Shire Council Minutes: From 17 February 2000.
To reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff from town sites on adjacent water ways.
To ensure that industrial facilities including ports and airports comply with Australian and Western Australian standards.
Eliminate the risk of waterway contamination from domestic and commercial hazardous and toxic material spillages.
All drains are suitably maintained.
All new urban developments proceed in accordance with the Better Urban Water Management Framework (2008).
The East Kimberley towns are designed to shed drainage water quickly, the majority of houses are slightly elevated on the blocks or built on stumps and roads are sunken to the extent that they form part of the initial drainage system. However, in some instances usually associated with extreme rainfall events some sections or all of a town can be impacted upon such as Warmun in 2011 and Kununurra in 2014. In these extreme events there is a risk of waterway contamination from sources not usually associated with normal stormwater runoff. Examples include sewage water, rubbish and industrial waste.
Drainage water from town sites in the East Kimberley eventually flows into natural waterways such as Cambridge Gulf (Wyndham), Lake Kununurra and the Ord River (Kununurra) and the Elvire River (Halls Creek). Some drainage water in Kununurra initially flows into irrigation channels and drains before it enters the river. The concern with the drains running into these natural and manmade waterways is that the water they transport has the potential to carry contaminants including oil from roads, heavy metals from industrial sites and nutrients from parks and gardens. Gross pollutants such as beverage containers, plastic and paper are also a problem. In addition drains have the potential to act as weed seed sources if they are not properly managed.The time when drainage off the urban areas is most important is generally the first run-off event of the wet season. This is due to the build up of oil and other hydrocarbons on the roads during the long dry season. Current Knowledge
Very little monitoring of drainage waters actually occurs in the East Kimberley. The Department of Water monitors Lily Creek in Kununurra but no monitoring occurs in other towns. Large scale urban developments can have a requirement attached to them for monitoring run off through the collection of base line data prior to the commencement of the development and ongoing monitoring for three years afterwards.
Cumbungi growing around drainage outlets into Lily Creek Lagoon may be acting as a biological filter for water entering Lake Kununurra. Where the Shire has cleared some areas of cumbungi in Lily Creek to “beautify” the area it has left the plant around the drainage outlets.
Illegal dumping of waste into the drains is an offence and the offenders risk prosecution by the local Shire.
The potential exists for major fuel spills to pollute waterways close to airports, particularly in Kununurra where the M1 Channel is located at the end of the runway and stormwater drainage from the airport discharges to the channel and the Ord River. While the risk is low the consequences could be great. The Shire’s of Halls Creek and Wyndham East Kimberley have Aerodrome Emergency Plans that cover Hazmat Incidents in addition to other emergency scenarios. The aviation fuel suppliers have their own plans in case of a fuel spill.
The amount of contaminants that actually enter the drainage system and the associated impacts.
Drainage and flood mapping for town sites and communities.
Minimise the impacts of the urban area on surrounding waterways by:
1. Increasing education and awareness about urban impacts on waterways. An ongoing program is required that focuses on the time of the year prior to the onset of the wet season. This could be done through:
A community environmental education program,
Ord Land and Water newsletters,
Shire Cyclone Cleanup newsletters, and
The Kimberley Echo.
2. Ensuring contingency plans for managing fuel run-off from fuel storage areas are current and addressing all the issues associated with the location of the airport adjacent to waterways.
3. Ensure new developments comply with the Better Urban Water Management Framework.Strategy 2
Monitoring the impacts of the urban area on the waterways by:
1. Sampling drainage water flows during rainfall events to determine the level of contaminants in the water.Responsibilities
Local Shires have responsibility for storm water management, for the airport and for emergency management plans for incidents and accidents in the area. The Shires also have a responsibility to support awareness about the issue of drainage from urban areas.
Developers have a responsibility to comply with State planning policy and best management practices.
The Department of Water has a responsibility to support awareness and to provide advice.
Residents of the area have a responsibility to reduce the impacts that they are having on the waterways.
1. Gardiner, H.G. (2000) Ord Land and Water Management Plan 2000. National Heritage Trust: AGWEST.
2. Shire Wyndham East Kimberley East Kimberley. (2015) Regional Airport Aerodrome Emergency Plan January 2015: www.swek.wa.gov.au/