Preserve Gnarabup has railed over the month-long delay to any State Government response to its concerns about alleged contamination and capacity issues at the hamlet’s wastewater treatment plant. In March, the group opposing the Saraceni-led development of a five-star resort and new de facto village centre, flagged concerns after their own consultants identified worrying levels of effluent and chemicals pumping into the ocean at Gas Bay. Protest spokeswoman Beth Carlessi said shortcomings at the Water Corporation plant had to be addressed before the development allowed hundreds more people to live on the headland. Concerns were sparked by the operator’s annual report which found nitrate, arsenic, lead and manganese exceeding triggers, as well as elevated levels of bacteria enterococci, found in faecal matter, at four near-shore points just south of Gnarabup and Back Beach. The Water Corporation previously said it believed the contaminants could stem from outside sources. However, despite a plea to WA Environment Minister Reece Whitby and a host of other politicians for an independent audit, the group received no response. A State Government spokesperson this week told the Times The Water Corporation’s licence was amended by regulators at Department of Water and Environmental Regulation in May 2021. “This amendment updated the groundwater monitoring program to better understand the risk of infiltrating treated wastewater to the surrounding environment,” a spokesperson said. “Annual reporting conditions were also strengthened, with a requirement to undertake more detailed assessment and interpretation of water quality data. “DWER does not typically require licence holders to commission third party audits of environmental monitoring reports, but DWER as the regulator has commenced its own review.” DWER previously found 2021-22 samples of microbial concentrations close to shore were “fair to very good water quality” under the national framework. “DWER will adjust its regulatory approach upon review of additional monitoring data, if required,” the government spokesperson said. Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie said she met with protesters in May. “I’ve relayed their concerns to the minister and these matters are with the minister for review,” she said. Ms Carlessi said Preserve Gnarabup and the Margaret River Coastal Residents Association looked forward to learning the outcome of DWER’s latest reviews. “The wastewater treatment plant was found to probably have been built without approval in a 2001 parliamentary inquiry by the Gallop Labor Government,” she said. “Now, 22 years later, we want the Cook Labor Government to close it.” She said residents had reported health complaints from swimming at Gas Bay and the levels of effluent and chemicals already identified justified immediate action.