EVERY morning, Yvette Davidson is one day closer to the dreaded arrival of what is likely to be her highest ever water bill.
“I’m trying not to stress and am thinking ‘It is what it is and I can’t control anything’,” she said.
“But I’m just waiting for that bill and to go ‘Holy crap’. Summer is going to be a nightmare.”
Mrs Davidson, who owns horse training facility Heritage Lodge in Williamtown, previously used hundreds of litres of bore water each week to hydrate and hose her animals and on her nine acres of lawns and paddocks.
She lives in the newly established primary management zone, the worst affected part of Williamtown's contamination red zone.
Residents in this area were warned last year not to use ground, bore or surface water, not to do anything that could lead to incidental ingestion of the water and not to consume any home-grown foods.
READ MORE: WILLIAMTOWN CONTAMINATION
“I asked the EPA, ‘Are you going to bring water trucks in to supply us with the water we’d normally use from the bore?’” Mrs Davidson said.
“They said I’d have to speak to the Department of Defence about that. I did, two weeks ago, but they still haven’t got back to me.
“The authorities are just burying their heads in the sand and hanging us out to dry.”
She has switched to town water for her horses, but is continuing to use bore water on her lawns and paddocks.
The most recent tests showed her bore water was safe, but she knows it may not be for long.
“There’s no way I would irrigate my paddocks with town water,” she said.
“I’ve grown up in this area and everyone’s got a bore, you rely on it.
“It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity for most people.”
READ MORE: Secret drinking water warning on PFAS
The Department of Defence told residents late last year it would pay three years of water bills for all red zone properties connected to town water since December 2015.
But the estimated 30 per cent of properties already connected to town water – including in the primary management zone – were not offered the same assistance.
Williamtown and Surrounds Residents Action Group’s Rhianna Gorfine said many facing higher bills for using more town water would struggle to pay the extra fees.
“It wouldn’t be a huge cost burden for defence to pay for them too,” she said.
“Why should there be a discrepancy?
“Everybody within the red zone needs to be treated equally.
“Everybody is suffering the same effects and day to day stress of living in a contaminated area.
“Everyone is in this through no fault of their own.
“Defence needs to step up and make life easier for residents.
“It’s about time they show some goodwill and put people first.”
Mrs Davidson said residents “just want to be compensated for the extra we have to pay”.
“There’s no one saying ‘We’re so sorry about this, we’ll do everything to help you’.
“It’s just ‘You’re on your own’.”
The department did not provide comment by deadline.
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