Hedland resident left without water for three months

Jasmine BamfordNorth West Telegraph

A South Hedland grandmother has described feeling desperate and helpless after the Department of Housing failed to restore running water at her Homeswest residence for more than three months.

Marie Whitcher, a Hedland resident of 33 years, complained to the department in April of a trickling water supply and of gravel and sand coming out of her shower recess.

Over the proceeding three months she was presented with bills totalling more than $9600 due to a leak which not only prevented her from washing and showering in her Spoonbill Crescent apartment, but spilled enough water into the street to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Since Ms Whitcher’s first complaint to the department a number of tradesmen attended her property but repairs were never finished.

When Ms Whitcher received the first water bill for $4600 she contacted the department again and asked for assistance, but her complaints fell on deaf ears.

“The lady got a shock when I showed her the bill and she said ‘leave it with me’ … that was nearly two months ago and I haven’t heard from them,” she said.

Ms Whitcher, 55, said she hadn’t had any contact with the Department of Housing until she received a second water bill on July 31 for a further $5000.

“I only have one job in Coles, that’s it,” she said.

“There is no way I can pay that amount of money and they are still charging me full rent.

“Every time I tried to get some help they said ‘we don’t know anything about it, it has to go to Perth’…they look at me like I’m stupid and they haven’t been paying any attention to me.”

To add insult to injury Ms Whitcher received a letter from the Department of Housing dated July 29 informing her of a rent increase.

The letter said her rent had risen due to an annual review which re-evaluated household income.

“I’m getting depressed and it’s catching up on me now,” she said.

“I don’t want to go home anymore; I’m feeling depressed at work, my bloods running hot, I just want to cry.”

The Water Corporation confirmed Ms Whitcher informed them of an internal leak at her property and advised her to call the Department of Housing.

“The Water Corporation is responsible for maintaining water delivery infrastructure up to and including the water meter, however leaks beyond the meter are the responsibility of the property owner,” Water Corporation North West regional manager Peter McAllister said.

Following inquiries by the North West Telegraph the Department of Housing contacted Ms Whitcher to apologise and informed her they had paid the outstanding water bill.

Department of Housing acting general manager of service delivery Graeme Jones said repair works at Spoonbill Crescent were not carried out due to a number of clerical errors.

“The repair work will be completed as early as possible next week,” he said.

“The department attended Ms Whitcher’s premises on April 29 following an emergency job order being requested and temporary repairs were carried out.”

The Telegraph understands surrounding units were not affected by water supply issues.

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