The Shire of Manjimup’s estimate last Friday (Feb 13) of at least two weeks until the South Western Highway would reopen has proven to be ultra-conservative.
The good news from Main Roads WA today is that the Highway will open tomorrow (Feb 20).
Main Roads’ full media release, as follows:
A 30 kilometre section of South Western Highway in the State’s south-west is due to reopen to traffic tomorrow evening following this month’s devastating bushfires in the region.
Main Roads WA work crews have been repairing minor damage to the road surface and the clean-up of burnt roadside vegetation will continue over the weekend.
Main Roads Executive Director of Regional Services, John Erceg, said the highway would remain open under speed restrictions.
A 30 kilometre section of the highway connecting to Walpole in the Manjimup Shire has been closed to traffic for several weeks due to the fires, and there was minor damage to the road at various locations.
The section remained closed while fire damaged tall trees on the roadside were pruned or removed.
“The fact that we are able to re-open the road ahead of the Labour Day long weekend next week is good news for commuters in the area as well as the tourism industry and the town of Walpole,” Mr Erceg said.
“We were always mindful of the impacts to businesses in the Walpole district the longer the highway remained closed.
“The re-opening also means that tourist traffic from Perth will be able to travel the South Western Highway unimpeded over the long weekend.”
For more information on road conditions throughout the State go to www.mainroads.wa.gov.au or ring the Main Roads Customer Information Centre on 138 138.
Shire President Wade de Campo, Cr Dave Tapley, and other representatives of the Shire of Manjimup will hold a meeting tomorrow (Friday, February 13) in Walpole to learn about the challenges faced by our community due to road closures and other ramifications of the bushfires; and any other issue of concern to residents.
Members of the Walpole & Districts community are welcome to participate in the meeting, which will take place at 1:00pm at the Walpole Community Resource Centre, Latham Avenue, Walpole.
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North Walpole resident Louis Beckerling noticed that the water in his rainwater tank tasted smokey so he investigated its implications.
Concerned that there might be unhealthy levels of the carcinogenic chemical compound benzene in his water supply, Mr Beckerling called the Department of Health who referred him to the Shire of Manjimup.
In an emailed follow-up to a telephone conversation, the Shire’s Environmental Health Technician Sheri Laba informed Mr Beckerling that the Shire can provide microbial testing, but chemical testing must be carried out independently.
“Unfortunately the associated costs are not covered,” Ms Laba wrote. “The cost for the Shire to come and take microbial samples would be $60, and results would take about a week.
“The Shire is currently exploring the option of providing 5000 litres of potable water to rural residents (not on scheme water) affected by the fire.
“Some research is being done to clarify the information required from land holders eg. tank damage, contamination of tank, fittings, access etc.”
Mr Beckerling understands that the Shire of Manjimup is trucking drinking water into Northcliffe and providing 5,000 litres per family.
“They will consider trucking water into Walpole depending on how many households are affected,” he said.
Cr Dave Tapley told the Weekly that he would raise the issue at a fires-related meeting with representatives of the Shire, which is tentatively planned to take place in Walpole on Friday (Feb 13).
He said he will attend Business After Hours at the Walpole CRC this evening (Feb 11 from 5:30pm) and will listen to any concerns Walpole & Districts residents may have.
Favourable prevailing winds and large tracts of land north and northwest of Walpole that saw prescribed burning between a year and four years ago are two of the factors that combine to lessen authorities’ concerns about Walpole.
Nevertheless, as at 1:00 pm on February 6, North Walpole remains on a Department of Fire & Emergency Services (DFES) “Watch & Act” alert while Walpole town is on an “Advice” level warning.
Department of Parks & Wildlife (DPaW) Frankland District Manager Allison Donovan led a presentation and Q&A regarding the fires to the northeast of Walpole.
A few of the questions raised from the audience in the packed Community Hall that received definitive answers, included:
Western Power’s planned power outage for tomorrow (Feb 7) will not take place. It is unclear whether the planned outage on Feb 11 will occur.
The evacuation point for those who may need it has shifted from Walpole Sport & Recreation Centre to the equivalent facility in Denmark.
All National Parks and associated facilities in the area are closed to the public. The Walpole & Nornalup Inlets Marine Park remains open to boaters and fishos.
DPaW reiterates that DFES’ alert service at dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts remains the primary, definitive source of information for the public.
Towards the end of the Q&A part of proceedings, Emergency Services Medallist Alex Williams asked the assembled to consider joining one of the volunteer emergency services, particularly the local Bush Fire and Fire & Rescue groups.