Four small country towns are to be chosen as part of a pilot program to extend reticulated sewerage services to areas not covered by the State's ten-year infill sewerage program.
Water Resources Minister Dr Kim Hames said he had initiated the Small Town Sewerage Program following approaches from towns that were not part of the State-wide infill scheme.
He said the program would have important environmental benefits for towns that participated.
"Septic tanks and leach drains can allow nutrient-rich waste water to return to the soil, affecting groundwater, wetlands, river systems and bird life," Dr Hames said.
"In certain conditions septic tank effluent can find its way to the surface and cause serious health problems."
"State Cabinet has approved a special five-year program to sewer 20 towns with populations generally less than 500.
"Initially six towns – Hyden, Kondinin, Kulin, Kukerin, Tambellup and Tammin – are being asked if they are interested in being part of the program.
"Four of these will be chosen for the pilot project.”
Dr Hames said the Water Corporation would proceed only in those towns where 75 per cent of residents agreed.
The capital cost of the five-year, 20-town program was estimated to be $52 million and local authorities would have to meet 15 per cent of capital costs in their town.
This could be solely or partly by providing labour, equipment, backfill materials or land for pumping stations and treatment plants.
Other costs could be offset by reinstatement work on roads, verges and other areas disturbed by excavations.
"As well as considering the views of residents, the Water Corporation will look at priorities for the environment, health, the protection of water supplies and development issues," Dr Hames said
"Local conditions, such as soil types and construction costs, will also help determine which towns are chosen.
"There will be an extensive consultation process with local governments, businesses, community and ratepayer groups.
"In each town residents will be asked to elect representatives to consult on their behalf.
"Information will be provided by direct mail to all residents and through press advertisements, displays and public meetings.
"There will also be the opportunity for every resident to express their view through a questionnaire."
Dr Hames said local authorities that could commit to the capital cost and whose residents agreed to be part of the program would be invited to make a submission.
He said he would make the final decision based on Water Corporation recommendations.
If the pilot program was successful, four more towns would be chosen each year for the next four years.
Media contact: Sandy Gater 9424 7450