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Water quality issues at WAMIA makes waves in livestock industry

Headshot of Aidan Smith
Aidan SmithCountryman
Sheep sale / auction at the Muchea Livestock Centre (saleyards).  Danella Bevis/Countryman
Camera IconSheep sale / auction at the Muchea Livestock Centre (saleyards). Danella Bevis/Countryman Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

The below industry standard water quality at the Muchea Livestock Centre has upset users and resulted in some “stepped up measures” to sterilise and flush the onsite system to bring its water to acceptable levels for drinking and showering.

The issues, which have been ongoing for months, have upset livestock transporters who after delivering stock and washing out their trucks, have had no showering facility to tidy themselves up before hitting the road again.

Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of WA committee member Ben Sutherland, from 5K Livestock and Bulk, said his company has had drivers not be able to access facilities at the MLC for the past few months, which was “not good enough”.

“The showers have been a problem for the past three months,” Mr Sutherland said.

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“That’s a long time without facilities.”

He said drivers had to wash out their trucks after unloading, which can take between three and seven hours, and especially in the cold wet conditions of winter it was nice to have a hot shower afterwards, due to being wet through and covered in muck.

Mr Sutherland said drivers had been using the BP facilities in Muchea, but they were barely coping with the amount of drivers using them.

“They carry on about animal welfare but what about us,” he said.

“They don’t take livestock transporters under consideration much.”

Livestock agents sheep drafting contractor David Nairn said the issues had been ongoing for some time and it “needed urgent attention”.

“We’ve been aware of the issues and we are trying to work through it with them,” Mr Nairn said.

Dust from livestock movements in the yards, as well as trucks, was thought to be a contributing factor to the water quality.

WAMIA acting chief executive I-Lyn Loo at the Muchea Livestock Centre.
Camera IconWAMIA acting chief executive I-Lyn Loo at the Muchea Livestock Centre. Credit: Aidan Smith/Countryman

Countryman obtained a copy of the “MLC Update – Water Quality” sent to livestock agents and MLC users this week.

WA Meat Industry Authority acting chief executive I-Lynn Loo said WAMIA has been working with professional contractors, which has resulted in “the MLC water systems (having) been chemical-treated and flushed twice”.

“These measures have significantly improved the water quality, but unfortunately not to levels required to meet the Australian and Western Australian drinking water and non-potable water standards,” Ms Loo said.

“WAMIA has consulted with our contractors and developed a plan involving increased sterilisation measures to address the issue, I am hopeful that this further undertaking will resolve the water quality issues in the very near future.”

Ms Loo said regular monitoring of the water quality at the MLC was carried out and in January the monitoring report identified potential issues on site.

She said further testing resulted in the closure of showers and drinking water fountains around the centre.

“Low rainfall over the summer may have contributed to the issue,” Ms Loo said.

“We chemical-treated and flushed the system twice which improved the water quality.

“Further testing showed that while most of the water fountains in the yard are suitable for drinking water use, we have chosen to take the precautionary approach and continued providing alternative fresh drinking water source to users until the third stage of sterilisation and flushing measures are carried out.”

Ms Loo said the “stepped-up measures to sterilise and flush the system have commenced” and WAMIA was hopeful that these measures will result in a good outcome soon.

The MLC holds weekly cattle and sheep sales on Monday and Tuesdays, as well as additional store sales throughout the year.

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