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Weak Chemical Testing of Tasmanian Waterways Under Liberals

10 Jun 2015

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Primary Industries & Water spokesperson

Tasmanians should be concerned about what exactly is coming out of their taps following confirmation in Budget Estimates today the Department of Primary Industries Parks and the Environment has ceased its regular testing for chemical contamination at 51 sites in water catchments around the State.

Minister Rockliff confirmed that regular testing for chemical contamination in our water catchments has ceased following cuts of $39.7 million to the Department's budget in last year's state Budget and embedded across the Forward Estimates.

The Budget also shows a $1.2 million cut to Water Resource Management in DPIPWE over four years.

Tasmania has a worrying history of agricultural chemicals like Triazines and MCPA being detected in our water catchments as a result of DPIPWE's regular testing regime, which was in place since 2005 up until last year.

It is essential there is regular and systemic monitoring of catchments which feed in to our drinking water supplies and that Tasmanians are informed about the results.

Testing only some water catchments at the seasonal peak chemical use time, as the Government is proposing, risks missing significant contamination events and gives no information about the residue levels in our rivers and waterways feeding into the water Tasmanians drink.

With Minister Gutwein yesterday effectively washing his hands of responsibility for ensuring TasWater improves water infrastructure and provides timely solutions for towns like Pioneer whose water is contaminated with lead, it seems the Liberal Government doesn't take seriously the need to ensure safe, uncontaminated water supplies.

Minister Rockliff used one Dorothy Dixer after the other to talk up Tasmania's brand, but refused to acknowledge that chemicals in our waterways would put that at risk and potentially, risks the health of Tasmanians.