TasWater recognises the Prime Minister’s promise yesterday of Federal Government funding to
Launceston’s Combined System as a valuable start to addressing the many factors needed to help
clean-up the Tamar River.
However, in interview the Tasmanian Premier said there were 1000 sewage spills from the
Launceston combined system per year.
This is not accurate.
There are between 60 and 90 overflow events from the Launceston combined system per year.
The Premier’s number actually reflects how many times the stormwater pumps started within a
single pump station connected to the Launceston combined system.
This number of pump starts is actually a sign the system is working properly.
The combined system will only overflow into the Tamar when there is excessive stormwater in the
system. This occurs on around 50 per cent of rain days throughout the year. Records over the past
four years show that this is between 60 and 90 events per year.
Controlled discharges only occur when the volume of stormwater entering the system exceeds the
capacity of sewage pumps to safely manage the flow. In those cases, a controlled discharge of excess
water is diverted into the Tamar. This is how the system was designed to operate and helps prevent
flooding behind Launceston’s flood levy system.
The actual wastewater component of an overflow like this is always highly diluted being typically
more than 95 per cent stormwater.
The number of 1000 that is often repeated represents the pumps doing what they are designed to
TasWater hopes the Prime Minister’s commitment yesterday will be guaranteed regardless of the
make-up of the next Tasmanian government and if so, looks forward to working cooperatively with
which ever party succeeds in forming government.