The Economic Regulator has released a report on the state of Tasmanian water and sewerage industry which highlights areas of performance where community expectations are met and areas that need improving.
TasWater has welcome the release of the State of the Industry (2015-16) report. In relation to the provision of drinking water, the state of the Industry Report indicates 99.2 per cent of TasWater’s 202,478 customers are supplied water which meets Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. This is up from 98.6 per cent the previous year.
The remaining 0.8 per cent of customers will also be able to drink their water straight from the tap within two years.
The report also confirms the previously reported data from the Federal Government’s recent National Performance Report of urban water utilities across Australia that shows TasWater has the lowest prices charged on a litre-for-litre basis of any comparable utility.
At the same time TasWater turned in a 26 per cent increase in spending on infrastructure to a total of $129 million.
According to that report, this is the highest investment in capital expenditure per customer of any water utility in Australia.
The Economic Regulator also confirms TasWater’s commitment to customer service with 88 per cent of calls to their customer service centre answered within 30 seconds.
TasWater said the Australian Government’s Performance report places it as the best in the country and demonstrates the benefit of their new centrally located customer and network operations centre in Devonport.
TasWater Chairman Miles Hampton said, “This report shows that there is no so-called “crisis” in Tasmania’s water and sewerage system. It reports improvement in virtually all areas across the range of our operations since last year and demonstrates how far we have come in just over three years since TasWater was formed.”
Recycled water use is up, drinking water compliance is up, and environmental performance is up. Of particular note is that sewage compliance is now at 84.2 per cent.
“Last year we agreed with the Environmental Protection Agency to concentrate on improving the thirteen sewage treatment plants around Tasmania that would have the most effect on the highest volume of wastewater treated – clearly this is producing results.”
As an example of further work in this area, the $44 million upgrade of the Blackmans Bay sewerage treatment plant, as single project represents a very significant development in the building of Tasmania’s infrastructure.
To be as effective as possible, as quickly as possible TasWater has also targeted treatment plants that are closest to sensitive areas like those around shellfish farms.
Work is underway on the upgrade of Richmond’s sewage pumping station as well a new pump station in St Helens, now in the tender approval stage. Both upgrades are vital in protecting the local shellfish industry.
TasWater currently has several major capital projects underway. This work is underpinned by the need to delicately balance the capital program, with pricing outcomes which, with the approval of the Economic Regulator, can continue to provide TasWater customers with an affordable and sustainable water and sewerage service.
“Overall, the results on pricing, customer service and the wise investment of capital demonstrate that TasWater is putting in the hard-yards right now, every day, to improve this industry and help set this state up for its future.
“It is clear that TasWater is making a tangible, positive difference to Tasmania.
“Despite the Government continuing to downplay the accomplishments of TasWater, this independent assessment shows the Corporation is getting on with the business of improving our water and sewerage infrastructure,” Mr Hampton said.