The remote community that saved its water and its future

Date: 01-Apr-19
Author: Liam Taylor

Remote Western Australia can be a challenging place to live, especially with a contaminated water supply. Image: Germane Jaws/Unsplash © Germane Jaws/Unsplash

Remote Western Australia can be a challenging place to live, especially with a contaminated water supply. Image: Germane Jaws/Unsplash

With the help of crowdfunding and donated technology, the tiny community of Buttah Windee in mid-west Western Australia has turned its fortunes around.

A decade ago the tiny aboriginal community of 50 people discovered the local water supply was contaminated with levels of naturally occurring uranium over double the national health standard. Once word spread that local tap water was unhealthy to drink, most of the community left for greener pastures.

The local resident who made the discovery, Andrew Binsiar, appealed to the West Australian government for support, but was told the problem would be too expensive to fix. Instead, the government offered to move remaining residents into housing in nearby Meekatharra, an option many in the community opposed.

As a result, Binsiar and the local community turned to crowdfunding, with people across Australia donating around $26,000 in just three months. These funds were used to install a reverse osmosis water treatment plant, which filters contaminants from the water.

Further help came from Western Australian company Wilco Electrical who donated six solar hydropanels to the outback community, the first time such technology has been used in such a remote area of Australia. These units, powered by solar energy, are capable of capturing water from the air and producing up to 900 litres of water each month.

The community now have enough water to supply not only residents, but to even support a small barramundi fish farm. It is hoped the fish farm could eventually provide local employment and an additional source of income.


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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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