Update: Removal of excess water in Broke
A small number of residents in the town of Broke in the Hunter Valley are receiving assistance from the NSW Rural Fire Service and Singleton Council to pump out large pools of water on their properties following recent heavy rain and flash flooding. Removal of water from impacted properties has been happening since 13 July 2022.
Work stopped for a short time on 13 July 2022 to allow the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and scientists from the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) to assess the risk of contamination from the water being pumped out. Pumping out and discharge was able to continue where the water was not heavily laden with mud.
Water quality sampling for sewage contamination and dissolved oxygen was conducted on 14 July 2022. The results indicated some pooled water contained sewage, as expected. The EPA advised Singleton Council that contact with the water should be avoided and to wear personal protective gear if working with the water.
The presence of sink holes in Broke is highly unusual and the result of recent flash flooding. The sinkholes can become larger when drained of water as water pressure assists in holding the walls up.
Public Works has recommended filling sink holes prior to draining water out, to assist with the stability of the walls and to avoid the elevated water table refilling the holes.
Some of the water in the sinkholes originates from septic tanks broken or inundated by the floods, so the water is contaminated with bacteria.
Singleton Council has been managing the water pumping and on the ground activities with support from the NSW Rural Fire Service and Public Works. The EPA continues to monitor and provide support, including arranging for scientists to continue performing water quality tests for bacteria and dissolved oxygen.
Public Works and Resilience NSW are advising and assisting Singleton Council to facilitate necessary repair work as soon as possible.