TasWater has assessed the damage to sewer and water infrastructure around the state following severe flooding in June 2016 and estimated the repair costs to be around $20-$25 million.

TasWater CEO Michael Brewster said that while damage from the floods was significant, the extreme weather event also demonstrated the organisation’s ability to deal with emergencies and minimise disruption for customers.

“Our planning and rapid response in the face of heavy rain and rising river levels meant that the potential impact on our customers and the environment was minimal,” Mr Brewster said.

Forth Water Treatment Plant was the hardest hit by the floods, with the clear water storage inundated, forcing the plant to be closed down.

The office complex was also evacuated and shut for several days with roads impassable.

Other damage to Tasmanian sewer and water systems included:  

  • At the height of the flooding in Latrobe, a water main burst, cutting supply to many homes already evacuated and allowing flood water to inundate the water reticulation system  
  • Two of Launceston’s eastern water treatment plants ran at reduced capacity due to rising flood levels and increasing debris causing damage  
  • The main supply line to Derby was washed away, with emergency water trucked into the town within a few hours
  • Multiple pump stations and treatment plants were shut down
  • Launceston’s Hobler’s Bridge and Norwood sewage treatment plants were completely inundated while Ti Tree Bend and Riverside were evacuated for safety reasons, operating in auto mode  
  • At Burnie, Devonport and Swansea, dams were affected during floods and while now operating at safe levels, Burnie’s Pet Dam will require structural repairs to the downstream spillway  
  • Three shellfish areas were affected by overflows but preparations put in place by the industry ahead of the storm event minimised the impact.

The floods also led to high levels of turbidity, resulting in the Department of Health and Human Services introducing three temporary boil water alerts affecting several communities in the Huon Valley and Upper Derwent Valley.

Mr Brewster said TasWater managed the storm period by immediately setting up an Incident Management Team responsible for monitoring and assessing the flood impact as it developed and allocating resources to respond.

“Where customers were impacted, they were fully informed of any shortfall, provided with alternative or restricted services and normal operations were returned as quickly as possible,” Mr Brewster said.

TasWater has completed immediate works to make the assets safe and repairs have been undertaken to restore essential services across the state.

Work is also underway to repair the spillway of the Pet Dam which is expected to be completed by the end of September 2016.

”This has been the most significant incident faced by TasWater since we formed as Tasmania’s statewide water and sewerage provider and the fact we were able to work around the clock to minimise service interruptions was pleasing,”  Mr Brewster said.

“I am very proud of the TasWater team, in the way it handled the situation. To me it demonstrates another stage in the development and maturation of our organisation.”

TasWater is now transitioning from assessing the impact of the floods to prioritising the work program required to ensure longer term infrastructure recovery, where still required.

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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