Peter Gutwein’s media stop this morning is another example of how the Treasurer does not understand the nuts and bolt of water and sewerage in Tasmania.
On one hand the Minister criticises TasWater on sewerage performance and on the other hand he defends the “rights” of businesses to pour fats, oils and grease straight into the sewer where it can block the system, damage the pipes and plants and has to be treated in the sewerage treatment plant at the expense of regular TasWater customers.
Many people would be familiar with images of the “fat berg” from London. This was a result of fat, oil and grease put into the sewer system and combining with other non-soluble materials to cause a blockage the size of a bus.
TasWater CEO Mike Brewster says, “No other state in Australia allows this to occur. It is world’s best practice not to do it. Trade waste like this causes enormous damage to our infrastructure and is the single biggest contributor to sewerage non-compliance in Tasmania”.
Trade waste compliance is a requirement under laws in all Australian states. It is mandated under the Water Management Act 2000 in NSW, the Water Industry Act 2012 in South Australia, the Water Act 1989 in Victoria, the Water Act 2000 in Queensland, the Water Services Act 2012 in Western Australia, and in Tasmania it is required under the Water and Sewerage Act 2008.
“We are implementing a Trade Waste Management program to protect the health of our communities, to protect the environment from spills, to protect the safety of our staff and increase the serviceable lifespan of our infrastructure,” said Mr Brewster.
In addition, TasWater is obligated by legislation to implement measures to mitigate the problem. The State Government’s own Economic Regulator requires TasWater to do this in a way that does not make our residential customers pay for the pollution produced by business.
TasWater has 3,400 trade waste customers. Since March 2016, we have approached 2,800 of these customers and asked them to comply with regulations. Of those, 2,000 already comply, and 800 are in the process of complying. In all that time we have received only six complaints. “This is an indication that the vast majority of trade customers get it – that the businesses that produce the waste should be responsible for it and not be cross-subsidised by the public,” said Mr Brewster.
“It is a shame the Treasurer does not understand.”
We are always willing to talk to any of our customers who are unhappy or need clarification. We are actively working with our 3,400 trade waste customers to help them comply with requirements while ensuring we protect our sewerage assets.
TasWater will continue to improve the treatment of trade waste until we achieve a modern, world-class sewerage system in Tasmania.
“That’s why our scientists and engineers have developed a sensible, engineering-based, ten-year plan that addresses the real problems our infrastructure faces, takes into account all relevant legislation and world best practice and does it without burdening future Tasmanians with intergenerational debt.”