Concerns that the Town Dam situated near the corner of Ulster and Trews Roads in York could overflow and that its contents could pose pollution threats and public health risks from resultant flooding have been addressed at a Special Meeting of the Shire of York.

Along with  a couple of unrelated items on the agenda the meeting sought to make a decision on any immediate action required for the Town Dam and what role it could play in the future as part of the Shire of York’s strategic plan to develop and manage the secondary water supply system for York.

It was resolved to set outside funding to address issues involving the Town Dam and how to integrate it into the secondary water supply plans for York’s future. $10,000 will be made available immediately to investigate and plan for the construction of an emergency overflow dam should the need arise. That sum will also go towards identifying other water catchment supply sites for the future and investigating ways to mitigate the salinity and nutrient levels of the existing dam and integrate this water into future supplies.

It had been reported that urgent action was required to prevent the dam overflowing by August of this year however  weather forecasting  from the WA Department of Agriculture and Food suggests  a drier than normal rainfall for the next three months should alleviate that urgency. Full contingency planning is in place to construct an overflow dam within a matter of two to three days should the weatherman prove wrong which would be adequate time to prevent the dam from flooding.

Previously the dam had been receiving treated wastewater from a Water Corporation treatment plant as well as filling its role in flood mitigation by tempering storm water surges. This combined water was then used to irrigate the town oval and old hockey field until May last year when salinity levels in the dam water were found to be harming the turf and the York Shire switched to using mains supplied water for irrigation of these facilities.

Infill supply of the treated wastewater from the Water Corporation treatment plant was halted in April of this year and this prompted some concerns as to what the Water Corporation would do with the increasing amount of wastewater which needed to be discharged somewhere. The Water Corporation has since met with the Shire of York and assured the Shire that they have identified other irrigation requirements to utilise this water such as watering its plantation of Sandalwood trees on the Water Corporation site on Great Southern Highway between York and Beverley.

The elimination of this infill takes the pressure off of the Town Dam’s capacity further alleviating the risk of it flooding since the dam ceased supplying water to irrigate the Town’s ovals. It is now better able to fulfill its role in absorbing storm water run-offs to mitigate surrounding flooding.

Shire of York President Cr Matthew Reid said after the meeting that it was important for York residents to be assured that any risks associated with the Town Dam had been properly identified and adequately addressed to safeguard York in the short-term and for them to be satisfied that thorough planning has been put in place to ensure the safe capture and delivery of quality water for the town’s secondary supply requirements into the future.

“The Shire of York, the Water Department, the Water Corporation and Mia Davies are all working together to ensure the best possible outcome for York” he said.  The Hon. Mia Davies whilst being our Member for Central Wheatbelt is also the Minister for Water.

Article by Troy Granville