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Drinking Water Risks Dismissed by Gutwein

7 Aug 2019

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

Environment Minister, Peter Gutwein, today refused to investigate the alleged continued failure by the Environment Protection Authority to detect repeatedly high nutrient and bacteria levels flowing into Hobart’s drinking water supply.

A recent water monitoring study, conducted by prominent scientist Christine Coughanowr, detected disturbingly high levels of dissolved nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients, as well as coliform and e. coli bacteria, below the Wayatingah and Florentine smolt hatcheries.

When the Greens raised the matter in Parliament today, Minister Gutwein refused to acknowledge the potential water quality risk, or that it likely originated from salmon hatcheries that flow into the Derwent catchment.

In 2014, Hobart’s drinking water was plagued by an unpleasant taste and odour. TasWater identified two organic compounds methyl-isoborneol and geosim as the likely source. The New Norfolk treatment plant was upgraded to process the tainted water, at great cost to the taxpayer.

Research elsewhere has linked excessively high nutrients that cause algal blooms, as well as methyl-isoborneol and geosim, to fish hatcheries.

Despite having apparently read Ms Coughanowr’s report, Minister Gutwein was unable to answer the Greens’ questions about this potential water quality risk.

Why has the EPA failed to detect these unnaturally high levels of nutrients and these bacteria?

The outflow from one salmon hatchery was 128 times higher than levels upstream. The Environment Minister dismissed the results of this monitoring study and denied there was a need for him to investigate the implications of its findings.

With progressively hotter summers predicted, people living in Tasmania’s capital city must be assured the quality and reliability of the drinking supply will be protected.

It’s irresponsible for the Environment Minister to refuse to investigate the impact of the salmon hatcheries on the Derwent’s water quality.