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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 671 asked in the Legislative Council on 25 June 2019 by Hon Charles Smith

Minister responding: Hon D.J. Kelly
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

WATER — PFAS TESTING

671. Hon CHARLES SMITH to the minister representing the Minister for Water:

I refer to PFAS water contamination widely reported in the Bullsbrook area.

(1) Why is the Water Corporation testing for PFAS chemicals in Perth's wastewater?

(2) What readings of PFAS were found in samples tested and what are the locations where PFAS chemicals were found?

(3) Has any testing for PFAS been conducted in mains scheme water?

(4) If yes to (3), where and what are the results?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for the question. The following information has been provided to me by the Minister for Water. I am sorry; I have not seen these answers before now.

(1) PFAS are considered to be emerging contaminants of concern. Following the release of the ''PFAS National Environmental Management Plan'' in 2018, which outlined guidelines for health, ecological and soil use for three PFAS compounds, the Water Corporation partnered with RMIT University, Melbourne Water and SA Water to better understand the levels of PFAS in wastewater.

(2) All Water Corporation wastewater treatment plant final effluent results for PFAS were below the health guidelines. The levels of PFOS were slightly elevated above the NEMP levels for ecological protection for fresh and marine waters. The corporation has been in consultation with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and other water utilities, and these findings are consistent with tested wastewater across the country.

(3) In August 2018, the Australian drinking water guidelines were amended to incorporate two PFAS health-based guideline values. These are 0.07 micrograms per litre of PFOS and PFHxS, and 0.56 micrograms per litre of PFOA. The Water Corporation is sampling water sources through an evidence-based risk assessment approach, including a new monitoring program, targeted at 17 priority locations throughout Western Australia. This program commenced during 2018–19 and had the support of the Department of Health.

(4) Sixteen of the 17 water sources tested had no detections above the limit of detection for PFAS. The seventeenth site was Esperance. More information on those findings can be found at www.watercorporation.com.au/faults/water-quality/known-issues-or-concerns/pfas-and-esperance.