Dirty wa­ter rage

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - ANNE MATHER

AS TasWater pushes ahead with its pro­gram of clean­ing up Tas­ma­nia’s tap wa­ter, re­gional res­i­dents are be­com­ing im­pa­tient for a ba­sic ne­ces­sity.

Last week the north­ern towns of Avoca and Mole Creek be­came the lat­est to lift a do-not-con­sume wa­ter alert, but 20 other towns are wait­ing for safe drink­ing wa­ter.

Der­went Val­ley res­i­dents have spo­ken out about the ex­pense, dif­fi­culty and em­bar­rass­ment of life with dirty tap wa­ter.

Gretna res­i­dents have been lob­by­ing for years for the town to be de­liv­ered safe tap wa­ter.

Gretna Green Ho­tel owner Colleen Sharpe said her busi­ness faced higher costs be­cause of the town’s dirty wa­ter.

She said she was giv­ing away bot­tles of wa­ter to in­cred­u­lous tourists and con­tin­u­ally re­pair­ing ma­chines that be­came clogged be­cause of the wa­ter — such as her wash­ing ma­chine, ice-maker and cof­fee ma­chine.

“Some­times af­ter a lot of rain the wa­ter is the colour of a beer bot­tle,” Mrs Sharpe said.

She and hus­band Phil bough the ho­tel in 2004, and the wa­ter had never been potable in their time as own­ers.

“The feed­back we get from tourists is they can’t be­lieve it,” Mrs Sharpe said.

“We end up giv­ing tourists bot­tles of wa­ter for noth­ing.”

TasWater chair­man Miles Hamp­ton said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was com­mit­ted to fix­ing wa­ter qual­ity by Au­gust 2018.

He said TasWater made a com­mit­ment in Au­gust last year to fix 24 towns, and he was con­fi­dent of de­liv­er­ing clean wa­ter to 12 of those towns by the end of next month.

“We have com­mit­ted to the 24 towns and we are half­way through the jour­ney,” he said.

Last week, Pre­mier Will Hodg­man de­scribed the re­cent up­grades as “too lit­tle, too late”.

But Mr Hamp­ton said TasWater was on tar­get with the up­grades, with some de­lays due to ex­pand­ing plans and mak­ing clean wa­ter reach more towns than orig­i­nally in­tended.

He said about 4 per cent of the state’s pop­u­la­tion did not have clean tap wa­ter in 2010.

“Now we are down to 0.8 per cent … and we are con­fi­dent that it will be down to 0 per cent by end of Au­gust 2018.”

Gretna res­i­dent Kate Bar­nett said she could not wait to see the end of “third world” wa­ter stan­dards.

She said her fam­ily could not drink the wa­ter, brush their teeth with it, wash white clothes or bath chil­dren.

“There are moth­ers here driv­ing 16km each way to New Nor­folk just to wash their ba­bies’ clothes.”

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