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Premier Unconcerned about Contaminated Derwent Beaches

11 Apr 2019

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Member for Franklin

The Premier appeared unconcerned Tasmania’s major southern river has become so contaminated by bacteria it is now regularly unsafe to swim in.

When questioned by the Greens, he refused to accept responsibility for ensuring the possible sources of faecal contamination in the Derwent are identified, and most critically - stopped.

In January, Hobart’s most popular swimming locations - Nutgrove, Hinsby, Bellerive, Kingston, and Blackmans Bay - were closed after testing found 7 of 18 spots had unsafe levels of the bacteria Enterocci. In March, they were closed again when bacteria levels were identified at 10 sites, with Kingston Beach recording an astronomical 110 times the safe limit for human health.

The faecal contamination is from multiple sources, but concerned residents heard at a recent public information session that some 67% of the bacterial source remains unknown.

So far, incorrectly piped human sewerage and beach seagulls have been implicated, but reasonable questions persist about the remainder. It’s also reasonable to investigate what role waste and excrement from fish farms play, given currents flowing from Storm Bay.

The Kingborough Council have been asking for urgent assistance from the Premier, and for the EPA to investigate the sources of contamination, but after two years there has been no meaningful action.

Multiple bodies are likely to be responsible for fixing the problem, however, the Premier needs to step in. As local member, he must ensure the bacteria sources are identified and urgent actions taken to fix the contamination before next summer, so residents can swim safely.