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TasWater – River Health

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Tags: TasWater, Water Quality, River Health

Dr WOODRUFF - Scientists in DPIPWE have developed a report looking at the health of Tasmania's rivers, that was called Temporal and Spatial Patterns in River Health in Tasmania and the Influence of Environmental Factors. Was TasWater provided with a copy of this report by DPIPWE ahead of it being released under right to information laws?

Mr BREWSTER - I've read the report but I can't say whether we were provided ahead of it or not, because I don't know. We can look into it -

Dr WOODRUFF - Could you provide that as a question on notice?


Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Brewster or Dr Gumley, the Temporal and Spatial Patterns in River Health across Tasmania, and the Influence of Environmental Factors was a report done by DPIPWE. Mr Brewster said he thought he might have seen it.

Mr BREWSTER - I have read it, yes.

Dr WOODRUFF - Have you been able to review the findings and can you talk about your view of the major implications of those findings for TasWater's business?

Mr BREWSTER - I can't recall the detail of it.

Dr WOODRUFF - Widespread, serious decline in river health would sum it up.

Mr BREWSTER - I do know the report. No, I can't talk off the cuff on it. As I said, will work through that report along with other reports with the round table.

Dr WOODRUFF - The report described the situation in a nutshell. There was an ABC 7:30 Report on this widespread, serious decline in Tasmania's rivers and the health of the rivers. That clearly has implications for the use of those rivers as a water source for urban users.

Mr BREWSTER - We're aware of that.

Dr WOODRUFF - Is TasWater providing a formal response to DPIPWE on this paper?

Mr BREWSTER - Not on that paper. It wasn't addressed to us. Our response, we've been clear, is we've studied all the catchments, we don't control the catchments, we're not the regulator of the catchments. We've studied all the catchments and we've made an analysis of them. We have shared our views on the state of the catchments over a number of years. We don't control what goes in, we only have to treat what goes out.

To the extent that we do get an opportunity, for example, on fish farms, we will submit a view when it's put out by the EPA and they call for input. We know the state of our catchments. That's what we're planning for, that's what we do.

Dr WOODRUFF - Have you communicated your thoughts to the Government about what steps you'd like to see DPIPWE take now to address the findings of the report?

Mr BREWSTER - No, that's a matter for the round table to work their way through. Our position to the Government has been that we are where we are with these catchments, we've put in the systems that can deal with it but the fix is going to be long term. That's why we want to be part of the solution. Because we've upgraded a lot of our plants, it's not going to change the treatment process we're currently using. The treatment process treats the current state of those catchments, which we're fully aware of.

Dr WOODRUFF - Is that report and the findings of the report a specific subject of discussions for the roundtable?

Mr BREWSTER - I do not know. I would have to ask Matt.

Dr WOODRUFF - Could you take that on notice?