Sewage spill from unpaid bills
Sewage has flooded a WA Indigenous community whose future was already “being considered”.
An apparent bungle by WA electricity firm Horizon Power repeatedly cut power to the pumps in the remote Karmulinunga community within the Kimberley town of Derby.
The unpowered pumps caused hundreds of thousands of litres of waste to flood the small community, before flowing onto Derby's sensitive tidal marsh.
Horizon says Karmulinunga’s power bill had not been paid since 2009, but it took until September 2015 for it to start intermittently cutting power.
This was despite the company claiming to have a policy not to disconnect power to essential services.
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) provided a written response to media inquiries.
“It is unfortunate that Horizon Power turned off the power at the Derby Town Based Reserve, an action which has led to the failure of a sewer pump. Horizon Power has acknowledged that power was disconnected in error and its policy is not to disconnect power to essential services,” the statement reads.
Coincidentally, the town’s entire future is up for review.
“The long-term arrangements of this and other Town Based Reserves is being considered by the Regional Services Reform Unit,” the statement said.
Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman’s recently-launched Department of Housing Regional Services Reform Unit has declined to comment.
Reports say the floods are being investigated by the Department of Environment Regulation (DER).
CEO of Derby's Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation, Susan Murphy, has told the ABC that the situation was mirrored in many other remote communities.
“It's no different to any other communities in the remote areas that I've been to see, where you've got sewage flowing everywhere and no contractor can get out there for three of four days to fix it,” she said.
She said her organisation was “trying to get the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the Water Corp and the Department of Housing to actually try and fix it”.
“Government choose to actually turn a blind eye because it's too hard.
“At the end of the day they're human beings just like the rest of us, and they want the same god-dammed services that you and I have every day,” she said.