Concerns Long Poolmay be pumped dry

Daneka HillNorth West Telegraph
(Left) Chris Raykos from Main Roads and (right) Marble Bar resident Christopher Bail after the peaceful protest in September.
Camera Icon(Left) Chris Raykos from Main Roads and (right) Marble Bar resident Christopher Bail after the peaceful protest in September. Credit: Christopher Bail

Pilbara residents have expressed their outrage after a pledge to not pump water from a popular fishing and swimming spot was broken.

Protesters held a rally at Long Pool, near Marble Bar, last year after locals found that a pump used to collect water for nearby roadworks was leaking diesel into the water.

Main Roads WA, which is responsible for the works, acknowledged the protesters’ concerns and found an alternative water source from two private bores.

But Main Roads now says Long Pool is the only viable alternative after “unreasonably dry weather” caused the bores to run low.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


The new pump went into Long Pool in early February, frustrating resident Christopher “Chopper” Bail, who personally heard Main Road’s promise to leave Long Pool alone.

“The agreement was they weren’t going to pump out of there,” he said.

“It’s not just people who use the pools, it’s also animals.

“It’s hard country and every bit of water is sacred.”

Mr Bail is a part of a group of Marble Bar locals known as the “enthusiastic eight” and has been the main negotiator with Main Roads.

“It is going very politely at the moment, I do believe they are going to get the pump out, but it’s just a matter of the water table,” Mr Bail said.

Mr Bail said Main Roads should have dug its bores deeper and stayed out of the pool, which is a women’s ground for the Nyiyaparla people and home to fish stocks.

“Your hole not filling up with water is not my problem, I’ve got that pool to protect — all our tucker needs that water,” he said.

Colin Ricketts works in Port Hedland and visits Long Pool often when he goes out bush.

Just before the new pump was put in Mr Ricketts had organised a clean-up of rubbish which had accumulated over time from visitor’s passing through.

“We cleaned up all the rubbish and everything so it was really nice again — it’s a beautiful spot you know, you can go there and there are swans and pelicans and ducks and all sorts of things,” he said.

A Main Roads spokesman said its use of Long Pool was only temporary until the water table improved.

But Mr Ricketts said there was a possibility of the pool being pumped dry if there was not more rain soon.

“When they say temporary they are drawing thousands and thousands of litres out of there daily just to wet the dust down on the roadworks they are doing, I just think it is wrong,” he said.

“Water is a precious thing, it gets wasted too much.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails