The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:29): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation a question about the Allenby Gardens/Flinders Park groundwater prohibition area.
21 February 2013
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 12 February residents within the Allenby Gardens and Flinders Park area received notification that they would be subject to the first groundwater prohibition area as of 23 May, which will prohibit them from using groundwater or bore water within that area. As has been documented in the 1990s, clay materials were excavated in that region, resulting in industrial and chemical waste entering the soil and later causing groundwater contamination. The EPA stated in its media release that, after recommendations in 2004 from the department of health, it undertook sampling to establish the boundary of the contamination. My questions are:
1.How recent is the EPA's data, in relation to this plume, that it is relying on to make this prohibition?
2.Is the EPA taking any action to prevent residents from consuming bore water or products using bore water?
3.As this is the first area to be prohibited, can the minister indicate whether there are other areas under consideration?
4.Is there a review process to reassess this determination?
5.What advice does the minister have for property owners whose property value may be impacted by having this on their title?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:30): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. In November 2004 the department of health advised owners and occupiers in parts of Allenby Gardens and Flinders Park of groundwater contamination and the potential risk to human health that the contamination posed for local residents using bores that might be present. I understand there was some media interest in this contamination in 2004 and again in 2005.
I am advised that the source site of the contamination in Allenby Gardens is 24 Moorfield Terrace, Allenby Gardens. The site was historically excavated of clay for brick making, leaving a rather large hole, colloquially known, I think, as a pughole. The hole was subsequently filled with commercial and industrial waste, including oils and solvents, from the mid-1960s right up until 1990. The waste material resulted in site contamination that affected soil on site and groundwater both on and off site in a west to north-westerly direction.
I am advised that the soils on site have been remediated and a site contamination audit report has deemed the site suitable for proposed residential use. The chemical substances in the groundwater include trichloroethylene (TCE) and its degradation products dichloroethylene (DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC). The chemical substances contaminating groundwater on and off site, I am advised, exceed World Health Organisation drinking water standards.
A number of licensed and potentially unlicensed groundwater wells are known to exist in the vicinity of the site. The contamination is known to affect the first and second quaternary aquifers, which are 10 and 20 metres below ground level respectively. Groundwater is generally extracted from the first quaternary aquifer for domestic irrigation.
Following amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1993 that commenced on 1 July 2009, section 103S of the act allows the EPA to prohibit or restrict the taking of water if satisfied that there is contamination that affects or threatens water and action is necessary to prevent actual or potential harm to human health or safety. The EPA has determined that the contamination requires ongoing remediation in the form of a water prohibition area. The Department for Health and Ageing supports the EPA's determination that the contaminated groundwater is not suitable for residential use.
On 12 February 2013 the Environment Protection Authority wrote to residents in the Allenby Gardens/Flinders Park area to remind residents of the Department for Health's advice not to use bore water and to inform them that the EPA intends to establish a water (groundwater) prohibition area around the contaminated site. Residents were provided with fact sheets from the Department for Health and a list of frequently asked questions—known as FAQs to the younger generation; that is for you, Ms Franks—from the EPA. Residents were reassured that the use of mains water and rainwater is not affected by the proposed groundwater prohibition area.
I have also asked the EPA to send out follow-up material in community languages to ensure that all residents understand the risks involved in using groundwater. The EPA held open house information sessions on 16 and 18 February 2013 to provide residents and the broader community with an opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have regarding the water prohibition area. I am advised that approximately 30 people attended these information sessions. The EPA is planning further open house information sessions in the coming weeks with the specific focus on non-English-speaking residents.
I am advised residents have been provided 90 days to organise alternative water supplies, if they do in fact use groundwater, before the water prohibition area is established by notice in the Government Gazette. Once the water prohibition area is established, residents will be updated via letter of their responsibilities and reminded that it is an offence to use groundwater for any purpose in the identified area from 23 May 2013.
The EPA will record details of the water prohibition area on the public register. The information will also be available to all prospective purchasers of sites in form 1 of regulations under the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994. The prohibition on groundwater in the Allenby Gardens/Flinders Park area serves as a reminder of the EPA's advice to all bore owners that they should regularly test their bore water to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
The PRESIDENT: A supplementary from the Hon. Ms Lensink.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:35): Minister, I asked a whole range of questions and I don't think you have actually answered any of them, so will you undertake to—
The PRESIDENT: You should get to your supplementary question.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: —take them on board and come back with some responses?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:35): I think the other additional questions which were entertained were: is this a first and only situation or are we looking at others? My advice is that we may very well be looking at other sites, but that will be determined on the basis of the evidence.
There was a question asked about what value that may have on the title of properties. I am no expert; I am not a valuer. Perhaps the Hon. Mr Darley can convey some information to us later on, but I would imagine sites that are served by SA Water—a reticulated water system—would not have a huge impact on the value of the property, just because of the existence of bores, whether they are there or not or whether the water can be used. I say that is not personal advice: that is advice of a generic nature and no individual should take that as advice from me in terms of putting up their house for sale.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:36): And the recency of the EPA's data on the plume?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:36): I thank the honourable member for her supplementary. I think I mentioned at first that the data originated around 2004. I am not aware if there has been any more additional new data than that. I will undertake to ask my department and bring back a response.
4 June 2013
In reply to the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (21 February 2013).
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): I have received this advice:
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has relied on groundwater assessment data from 2004 to 2008, August 2010 and November 2011 to support the need for a prohibition area.
The EPA is satisfied that site contamination affects or threatens groundwater and action is necessary to prevent actual or potential harm to human health.