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Government Responsible For Water Quality Fix

13 Aug 2019

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson

Six million litres of untreated sewage was discharged into the Derwent River from the Macquarie Point Sewage Treatment Plant on Sunday, when back-up power failed. There was a disturbing, apparent eight-hour, delay in TasWater’s after-hours response.

After a similar incident in January, government testing identified potential risks to swimmer health and closed popular Hobart beaches. When the Greens questioned the Premier about the source of water contamination in the river, he dismissed concerns.

As a second contamination has now occurred, it appears both the government and the Environment Protection Authority have been missing in action on ensuring water quality is a priority.

Public health and water quality are ultimately the government’s responsibility. The State Government is now an owner of TasWater, and it can’t avoid the underlying problems with the Macquarie Point treatment plant any longer.

We expect the EPA to actively investigate whether negligence contributed to Sunday’s sewage contamination event. Public health is paramount and there must be a zero-tolerance approach if breaches have occurred.

With two serious failings at the Macquarie Point Sewage Treatment Plant this year, the Hodgman Government must ensure Taswater makes any necessary upgrades to prevent future plant failures.

Repeated serious water contamination last summer stopped swimmers from being able to enjoy Derwent beaches. It is crucial any required upgrades are prioritised before the coming summer.