Residents in Lake Grace are wondering how they will keep their stock alive and fight fires after several water standpipes were padlocked shut by the Water Corp.
More than a week ago, during one of the hottest months of the year when dams are dry and fuel is high for fires, nine standpipes were shut off without any notice.
After protests by community members concerned about the lack of water, six standpipes were turned back on at the weekend, but with the warning that they may be switched off again at any point.
North Lake Grace farmer and deputy fire chief Doug Dunham said that he, among with many others, did not know where to turn to for the water that they rely so heavily on for their farms, homes and safety.
“In the case of a fire, the dams are already low or dry so we aren’t going to be able to suck the water from there,” he said. “I just can’t really understand how they can shut the standpipes off without putting any restrictions on towns.
“We are really left in the lurch.”
Shire president Jeanette De Landgrafft said that water came from Kulin, through the pipe down to Lake Grace and from there it filled a large tank which supplied the town, and the remaining water flowed east to Newdegate.”
Because it was such a dry season, with high heat and no rain, it has got to a critical point and the hottest month is still yet to come,” she said. “In the case of a fire we have been told that people are to carry bolt cutters to access the water, which is pretty poor really.
“We don’t know if it is going to be like this for two days, a week or a month.”
Water Corporation Great Southern regional manager Adrian Stewart said large volumes of water had been taken from some standpipes recently which meant access had to be limited to preserve the town’s water supply.
“Our first priority is to ensure we have enough drinking water to supply people connected to our scheme,” Mr Stewart said.
“We continually monitor the levels of water available to Lake Grace and Kulin to ensure there is sufficient supply for residents and businesses connected to the scheme. “When it became apparent there had been a great drawdown on drinking water from standpipes for stock watering and spraying, we had to make the difficult decision to close some standpipes.”
No date has been given for when the water standpipes will be switched back on for good.