TasWater is calling for the government to commit to upgrading major water and sewerage infrastructure across the state, following the impact of complications, water shortages and floods.
TasWater Chairman Miles Hampton made a public plea to the major political parties to commit to the massive task of bringing Tasmania’s water and sewerage infrastructure up to standard under a ten-year $1.8 billion plan.
Following a difficult year, Tasmania’s dated water and sewerage systems have continued to struggle amid calls for a multi-billion dollar upgrade.
Mr Hampton said, “Since water reform first happened in 2009, we have spent more than $600 million addressing infrastructure shortcomings and the core performance metrics have barely moved, indeed in some cases gone backwards.
“We need to deal with issues such as in 2014-15 only one of our 79 EPA regulated sewage treatment plans achieved 100 per cent compliance with its regulatory discharge limits.
“Currently most regulatory limits for sewage treatment plants in Tasmania do not reflect the contemporary standards and the community expects we should be seeking compliance with modern day standards, which we wholeheartedly agree with.
“With some 23 communities remaining on ‘boil water’ or ‘do not consume’ alerts we need to bring these to an end.
“We need to stop the uncertainty of which townships will suddenly find themselves with a temporary boil water alert as Wynyard, Irish Town and Strahan experienced this summer.
“Just as importantly, with water main breaks per 100km at double the national average, we need to bring these in line with the rest of the nation, so consumers can expect a reliable service.
Mr Hampton said, “The combined stormwater and sewage system in Launceston also needs to be addressed and the Macquarie sewerage treatment plant should be moved to allow for redevelopment of the site.
“We have prepared a plan involving the community accepting tariff increases above inflation, TasWater finding further savings, owner councils endorsing a freeze in distributions, TasWater increasing its debt to approximately $800 million and we have called on the State and Federal governments to contribute $100 million and $300 million respectively.
“Further, recognising the budget challenges faced at both levels of government, rather than asking for the funding upfront we have sought a commitment from the State Government of $10 million a year for ten years and a commitment from the Federal Government of $30 million each year for ten years.
“These are extraordinarily modest requests given the nature of the task and if the commitments are forthcoming, TasWater can then get on with the plan to address current shortcomings and most importantly Tasmanians can know we are working to a plan that will see our infrastructure fit for purpose within ten years.”
Mr Hampton reinforced the fact that water quality across Tasmania was often unreliable and in some cases not drinkable and the risk to waterways from inadequately treated wastewater was significant.
“Modern day water and sewerage systems are essential building blocks for a first world economy. While it might seem okay to let the current situation drag on, the reality is longer term Tasmanians will likely pay a much bigger economic price. Our core brand of clean and green is seriously at risk.
“Our request to the State and Federal Governments is modest by any measure and the Tasmanian community is in effect wearing the bulk of the cost,” Mr Hampton said.