TasWater is currently carrying out a full review of recently released research into Pioneer’s water supply, which claims to have identified the source of lead.

TasWater and previously Ben Lomond Water, has carried out rigorous testing of heavy metals in the towns water supply since June 2010. When the presence of lead was identified the Department of Health and Human Services took action to protect the community by introducing a public health alert.

CEO Michael Brewster says there are elements within the Macquarie University study which need to be challenged but a full analysis of the findings will take some time. “We are seeking independent verification of the science and findings of the report and will share this information when we have it,” Mr Brewster said.

He says in terms of providing residents with an alternative and safe drinking water supply, TasWater is continuing its programme of service replacement. “In line with community backing, we will continue to install new water tanks at local properties with the reticulated system to be maintained for garden watering and other purposes.”

TasWater acknowledges the installation of water tanks is taking longer than hoped but as each installation is different and involves the upgrade of roof gutters and household plumbing, service replacement can take time.

Some residents too are still to sign contracts to enable the process to commence.

Mr Brewster says water quality issues are not unique to Tasmania with many small towns across Australia experiencing problems with their supply, be it caused by limited rainfall, poor quality catchments or inadequate storage and distribution infrastructure.

“In Tasmania, since the reform of our water supply system in 2009, close to half a billion dollars has been spent on improving water and sewage networks,” Mr Brewster said.

This financial year TasWater is spending of $90 million in upgrades with $330 million scheduled to be spent over the next three years.

This will see the number of towns covered by boil water notices or do not consume alerts being reduced from 26 down to eight in the next eighteen months.

In the north east of Tasmania alone this funding will see a new pipeline and water treatment plant installed for the towns of Ringarooma, Branxholm, Derby and Ledgerwood; all will have fully treated water by the end of next year.

Winnaleah is undergoing a trial to see if lead can be filtered out of water drawn from its current water supply.

TasWater also reminds residents who need to collect water from a community tank that if they are experiencing difficulty in maintaining that supply, to call TasWater on 13 6992. Customers who have difficulties in collecting water from the community tank, TasWater can help make arrangements to assist.”

Residents in Pioneer will be contacted over the coming days regarding a community meeting that will outline the latest phase of tank installations and to urge anyone still not signed up to a service replacement agreement to do so.
Simon Pilkington, TasWater