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Don’t risk your life relying on scheme water during a bushfire

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Water Corporation WA, Media Release, 20 December 2021

Water Corporation is reminding Perth and Peel residents not to rely on scheme water supply during a bushfire, as another challenging southern fire season is forecast for coastal WA.

Power outage, heat-damaged infrastructure and high demand can all result in a rapid loss of water pressure or supply.

rainwater tank
Rainwater tank. Photo: courtesy Water Corporation

Water Corporation Perth Regional Manager Gary Monaghan said while leaving high-risk bushfire areas was the safest option, those planning to defend their home must have an independent water supply, such as water tanks and pumping capability, in the event of power loss.

“Water Corporation does everything possible to maintain scheme water supply, however, assuming water will keep flowing during a bushfire could have life-threatening consequences,” Mr Monaghan said.

“Bushfires can send thousands of embers several kilometres ahead, which can knock out the power and, therefore, the water supply before the main fire. Also, the radiant heat can be so intense that no amount of water will stop it.

“Scheme water networks are designed to provide drinking water, so it’s crucial you have an independent water supply, ideally at least 20,000 litres, and pumping capability, as scheme water supply and pressure cannot be relied upon during a bushfire.

“The large fire in the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is a timely reminder of the need to be prepared, as this summer’s bushfire outlook is a concern, driven by above average temperatures and higher grass fuel loads.”

Above normal fire risk is forecast for the Pilbara, Gascoyne and Murchison, according to the Bushfire Seasonal Outlook for Summer 2021*, as well as Swan Coastal Plain, Jarrah Forest, and western most parts of the Mallee and Esperance Plains bioregions.

Normal fire potential is expected for the remainder of the state, including the far north where near average rainfall is expected.

Water Corporation prepares for the bushfire season by clearing land and access tracks within and around its pumping stations, storage areas and catchments, and having generators and emergency water carters on standby. However, it may not be safe for its crews to enter a bushfire zone to manage or repair the network.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ My Bushfire Plan website and mobile app guides users through the creation of a plan that can be completed in minutes. The app is available from the App Store, Google Play or https://mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au

To support bushfire plans, landowners or occupiers can take and store emergency water without it counting against their annual entitlement. For more information, visit the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s website at http://www.water.wa.gov.au/fireplanning

*Source: Bushfire Seasonal Outlook for Summer 2021 produced by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), the national council for fire and emergency services in Australia and New Zealand.

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