Peter Gutwein gets personal over TCT's sewage comments

Submitted to the letters page, Examiner, 1 May 2017

Water and sewerage

Peter Gutwein says 'I am surprised that the TCT accepts the state of Tasmania's infrastructure as satisfactory' (Letters, 28 April 2017). The TCT doesn't accept the status quo, we ask the minister to tell the truth about how bad sewerage management is and the causes.

Taswater reports more spills than the national average but this does not mean they have more spills or spill more sewerage by volume. Taswater is required by the EPA to report smaller sewerage spills (above 1000 litres) than utilities in Victoria (50,000 L), Queensland (10,000 L) and Western Australia (10,000 L). No one knows the total volume of sewerage spilt in Tasmania or other states.

Fixing our problems will be far more costly and time consuming than other states. Taswater has far more treatment plants, dams, pumping stations etc than mainland utilities it is compared to. Taswater manages 111 sewerage treatment plants (78 large, 33 small). No mainland utility manages more than 27. Some manage a single plant.

Peter McGlone, Director, Tasmanian Conservation Trust

Published in letters page, the Examiner 28 April 2017

Water and Sewerage

In response to Peter McGlone’s letter on water and sewerage, I am surprised that the Tasmanian Conservation Trust accepts the state of Tasmania's infrastructure as satisfactory.  I can only imagine the Trust is putting partisan politics ahead of taking action to safeguard Tasmania’s clean and sustainable brand.

Reports by independent regulators, the Office of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator and the Environment Protection Authority, have repeatedly raised inadequacies and underinvestment in sewerage infrastructure. The latest State of the Industry Report 2015-16 released last month, says “Tasmania’s water and sewerage assets are deteriorating faster than they can be replaced”. That report found sewer overflows have increased by more than 20 per cent and that sewage treatment plant compliance with EPA discharge limits for sewerage effluent has worsened by around eight per cent over the past six years.

The status quo is not working to fix our water and sewerage, which is why the Hodgman Liberal Government has announced a plan to take over TasWater. Our plan will ensure Tasmanians get better water and sewerage services faster, with lower prices and no need for rate increases.

Peter Gutwein, Treasurer

Published in the Advocate, 1 April 2017 and Examiner, 16 April 2017

Water facts?

The government is being misleading with its claim that Tasmania has third world standards of water and sewerage.

On March 7, 2017 the state government announced it would take over TasWater, claiming that there was a crisis in water and sewerage that justified its action.

The only analysis that I can find, that might justify the government's claims regarding low standards, is a seven page 'fact' sheet released on February 18, 2017, 'Tasmania's Water and Sewerage: the facts'.

There is no references to suggest that anyone other than the minister's office collated this misleading pile of so-called facts.

In regard to sewer overflows, to cite just one example, the documents says the we have a record seven times worse than the mainland. But the document refers to sewer overflows only up until end of June 2015. What happened since?

Overflows are expressed as a rate per 100 kilometres. Tasmania has a much more decentralised system with a greater length of sewer pipes in relation to population than the mainland states. You would expect a high rate of spills.

There was no statement about the quantity of spills or the impact of them.

Smaller systems in Tasmania could be expected to result in smaller spills than on the mainland.

Peter McGlone, Director, Tasmanian Conservation Trust