The students and parents of Salt Ash Public School have had a small but significant win in their ongoing battle with Defence over the school’s water bill.
On Wednesday the Department of Education agreed to reimburse the school for the shock $6,000 water bill the school received, and confirmed that the water bill will be paid centrally from 2019 onwards.
Following the public becoming aware of the PFAS contamination, Defence connected affected properties to town water, including Salt Ash Public School.
While Defence is currently paying the water bills for residential properties and local businesses, they have refused to pay the water bill for Salt Ash Public School which previously received free water from its bore water connection.
After getting a $6,000 bill, the school has had to significantly scale back its water usage, resulting in the school playing field turning to dust.
Instead of the small school’s budget going towards the students’ education, it’s had to go toward paying for a water bill.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington met with parents of the school on Monday and heard their concerns about the ongoing impact of Defence’s inaction since the contamination was revealed.
While the school getting their local budget reimbursed by the NSW Education Department is a welcome win for local families, the bill should ultimately be paid by the Department of Defence whose contamination of the local bore water has caused this issue.
Kate Washington MP has written to the Department of Defence urging them to add the school’s water bill to the residential water bills they are already paying.
Quotes attributable to Kate Washington MP
“After many setbacks, this is a small but significant win for the families in Salt Ash. It’s a shame they had to resort to media
“The reimbursement of the school’s water bill by the Department of Education is welcome news, but ultimately, this should be a Commonwealth responsibility.
“Having caused the contamination, Defence has agreed to pay the water bill for residential and business properties in the red zone for 3 years. They should pay the school’s water bill as well.
“This small school has had a big year, having faced 2 bushfires in the past 6 months. The return of these funds to the school will be welcome news to the school community."
This item was distributed as a media release on Wednesday 5 December 2018.