Water Research Australia (WRA) has found deficiencies in research regarding lead in the water supply of Pioneer (TAS). TasWater has stated that WRA suggests replacing the reticulated network with individual tanks for its 42 customers.

Earlier this year a Macquarie University research project suggested the source of lead in Pioneer’s water was in the network of pipes throughout the town.

For several years TasWater has been aware of sporadic elevated lead levels in Pioneer’s water supply and has complied with a Department of Health and Human Services Do Not Consume notice.

TasWater has been supplying potable drinking water from a community tank located in the township while a water tank program is implemented.

“TasWater’s decision to have the Macquarie University research reviewed was not aimed at challenging the presence of lead but instead testing elements of the research methodology and subsequent suggestions that TasWater’s response to the presence of lead was less than adequate,” TasWater’s CEO, Michael Brewster said.

The review, carried out WRA, questions important areas of the research carried out by Macquarie University:

  • Water samples for the study were taken from storages no longer supplying the township of Pioneer.
  • The sampling protocol was poorly described with insufficient repeat tests from the sample locations to provide confidence in the integrity of the sampling regime

In the opinion of the WRA review panel, some of the water tests are what would be described as first flush water and may not be accurately representative of the supply.

“We accept some findings of the Macquarie University study. We are aware of the presence of very low levels of lead in the water source supplying Pioneer and we acknowledge lead may leach from pipes and fittings.”

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