Tasmanian Treasurer, Peter Gutwein, has claimed that a lack of local investment in infrastructure has resulted in poor water and sewerage systems across the state, which poses an environmental risk.

Mr Gutwein said local governments’ inability to ensure clean and safe drinking water and that wastewater systems comply with environmental standards was concerning.

Ahead of a speech to CEDA, Mr Gutwein released a document on the state of Tasmania’s water and sewerage.

The document, which has been compiled from publicly available sources, states that, among other things:

  • 21 towns remain on Boil Water alerts
  • Four towns on ‘do not consume’ alerts
  • In 2014/15, only one (Somerset) of Taswater’s 78 level 2 Wastewater Treatment Plants was fully compliant with regularly discharge to water limits
  • TasWater’s rate of sewer overflows to the environment is seven times the national average
  • Unplanned interruptions to water supply have increased

Mr Gutwein said, “Yet, despite this, from 2009 to the end of TasWater’s current 10-year plan, local councils will receive almost $400 million in distributions from TasWater. That’s money that is not being reinvested in desperately needed upgrades to infrastructure.”

Mr Gutwein said local councils had sacrificed investment in state water and sewage infrastructure for a long time, in order to pay themselves dividends.

Mr Gutwein said that while in 2016, TasWater’s board had taken the extraordinary step to override their local council owners and reduce their dividends to help increase spending on infrastructure, it was not enough, and local government needed to do more.

Mr Gutwein said councils were failing in their fundamental duty to ensure TasWater delivered safe drinking water and sewage services.

Utility Journalist

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