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Hunter Water has been fined by the NSW Environment Protection Authority after a failure in their maintenance program that occurred at Dungog Water Treatment Plant (WTP) in May 2017.

As part of an impromptu inspection, the EPA identified a build-up of crystallised Alum salts from joins in the pipework, and lime scale and a leak on the lime dosing system.

Alum is used as part of the filtration process to treat water to drinking water standards and is commonly used throughout the world.

Hunter Water has acknowledged its maintenance procedures should have been better in identifying and resolving the issues, and maintained that it has a number of safeguards in place to prevent the escape of chemicals to the environment.

The EPA has confirmed that there was no evidence that the leaks had caused actual environmental damage. Hunter Water’s plant operators took immediate actions to resolve the defects identified by the EPA and improved systems for identification and management of similar defects.

Further to this, Hunter Water has made a series of improvements at the plant since 2016, including replacing the fluoride dosing and storage system at a cost of $1.5 million, and has completed a concept design for the upgrade of the other chemical systems at the plant, with an expected cost above $5 million.

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