A small community in Western Australia's Wheatbelt is fighting to preserve a tank capable of holding 10 million litres of rainwater, describing it as a vital source of water security and part of the state's history.
The Beringbooding tank was built in 1930 for pioneers of the Bonnie Rock farming community, 350 kilometres north-east of Perth in the Shire of Mukinbudin.
It was built by hundreds of sustenance labour workers, a scheme developed to provide employment relief during the Great Depression.
But farmer and Mukinbudin shire councillor Romina Nicoletti said its dilapidated timber-and-iron roof was at the centre of an ownership stand-off, with the State Government asking the shire to take the tank "off their hands for a small sum of money".
"Water Corp is trying to offload all of its old assets like this and we have several in our shire," Councillor Nicoletti said.
"At this point, that sum of money is not enough to make this site safe.
"Water Corp just doesn't want to put any funds towards it to fix the roof."
The tank is fed by a 7-hectare rock catchment area surrounded by a small wall, designed to capture and funnel rainwater to be stored in the concrete tank.
Beringbooding Rock has the largest rock water catchment tank in Australia and is a popular tourist attraction in the region.
Mukinbudin Shire farmer and councillor Jeff Seaby, who volunteers to show people the region's landmarks, including the Beringbooding tank and rock, says the site needs immediate maintenance works.
"It's unsafe. There's iron blowing off the roof and if someone gets decapitated or (it) smashes into someone's caravan, who is liable for that?" he asked.
"It's just deteriorating. It's never been maintained for years, so something has to get done about it as soon as possible."
Water in the tank is now regarded as non-potable and the state's Water Corporation has replaced it with a 60,000-litre tank fed by water piped from Mundaring Weir, hundreds of kilometres away near Perth.
But Cr Nicoletti said it was essential the community had access to other sources of water.
"I think we put ourselves in a vulnerable position out here with solely relying on water all the way from the Mundaring Weir," she said.
"It is super important to our district for the safety of everyone out here, for fighting bushfires.
"It's such a marvellous asset, I just think it needs to be looked after."
She said she and other farmers still used water from the tank for agricultural purposes and for fighting fires.
The Mukinbudin Shire estimates it will cost about $100,000 to remove the Beringbooding Tank roof and about $800,000 to restore it to its original condition.
Water Corporation Goldfields and Agricultural regional manager Mike Roberts said there were no plans to demolish the tank but the roof would be removed.
"We are working with the Shire of Mukinbudin to identify a practical solution for the overall future of the tank, so that it may continue to benefit the local community long after fulfilling its role as a Water Corporation asset," he said.
"As the Beringbooding Rock water tank and catchment currently appears on the Shire of Mukinbudin's Municipal Heritage Inventory, we would like to provide assurance that, if required, any modification to the tank will be made in accordance with Western Australia's heritage guidelines and policies."ABC