Boiled up with Scamander Water

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TasWater still has a boiled water alert out for the Scamander Water Supply. How could that be?
Many people were in favour of the then corporation Ben Lomond water taking over the water supplies throughout Tasmania. It was thought at the time that our water supply would be improved. My article written in December 14 , 2011 summarises the situation completely. www.eurekafarm.com.au/bloghh/water
So we are paying a lot more for our water since TasWater took over from Break O’Day Municipality and to add insult to injury we get the following typical warning:
“Scamander boil water alert
Regular monitoring in drinking water supply systems is routinely conducted by the Tasmanian Water Corporations. It has been found that this system is unable to adequately treat the drinking water supply to ensure E. coli is not present. E. coli itself is generally not harmful but its presence in drinking water is associated with faecal matter. The presence of these bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with organisms that may cause disease.
As a precaution you are advised that water for consumption within the Scamander area should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute. Water should then be allowed to cool and stored in a clean container with a lid and refrigerated.”
 
The plant located at the crossing in Upper Scamander uses modern membrane technology coupled with aeration to lower solids before filtration. “The later step of flocculation was added when it was found that the membrane system wasn’t able to handle fluctuating solid loads. It is my understanding this is a prevalent condition after heavy rains etc.
The initial plant was completed in late 2011. Before this new plant was commissioned the water was simply chlorinated. At that time we only had boiled water alerts after heavy rains when the chlorination process was inoperable. Since it was built is was severely damaged by floods due to its lower location than the original pumping station.
The membrane treatment works I believe produces exceedingly good water much of the time but because they cannot guarantee that it will work all the time they have placed a boiled water alert. The air floatation system and flocculents added at a later date must be causing some problems which have not been explained to the public. However heightened concern over Taswater’s competence did occur when a large number of fish died near the outlet to the treatment plant large year.
 To continue this process of no information or  misinformation is entirely unacceptable  and doesn’t give us the consumers any confidence in their credibility to fix the problem EVER
 
It is now 2016 and we continue to pay exorbitant rates for a service which has not improved in 6 years. I think we should demand that if Taswater continue to claim that our water remains unacceptable for drinking we get a discounted rate as it is not treated and therefore should only incur a pumping fee.

Comments

Boiled up with Scamander Water — 3 Comments

  1. I take the liberty of posting an email reply from TasWater:
    2/06/2016
    Hi Denis.
    Thanks for your email.
    I am currently working on some material for the Scamander community in relation to works we will be undertaking before the end of the year in Riverview Road.

    As some background, currently the Scamander Water Treatment Plant (WTP) and the Riverview Road water reservoir are unable to operate at the same time, limiting the capacity of the water supply system. Works being carried out in Riverview Road will include the construction of a new reservoir inlet and a 1.24km inlet pipeline. These works will allow the WTP and the reservoir to operate at the same time, providing a buffer for peak flows.
    The project will also:

    · Improve the chlorine residual within the system

    · Allow for growth in the system

    · Provide more confidence around the lifting of the Boil Water Alert in Scamander

    · Reduce TasWater’s operational expenses due to reduced call outs

    · Simply operation of the system

    I am told that works will take approximately four weeks and could be completed as early as late August.

    Commissioning of the inlet and inlet pipeline will be followed by a program of comprehensive water quality tests. These tests will take a number of weeks (I understand approximately 12) and will form the basis of a submission to the Department of Health and Human Services for the existing Boil Water Alert to be lifted.

    Until the Boil Water Alert is officially lifted, our Scamander customers will continue to receive a 20 per cent discount on their variable charge (ie for water usage).

    I am currently working with the project manager and some other key staff to finalise a date for a community information session in Scamander. This session will provide residents with an opportunity to ask questions specifically about the Riverview Road project and about Scamander water quality more generally.

    If you don’t mind I will keep a note of your email address on file and will send you some details on the session as soon as we have something finalised.

    I should also note that works have been completed on a pre-treatment facility at the Scamander WTP. The pre-treatment facility will allow the plant to produce quality treated water despite fluctuations in the raw water quality sourced from the Scamander River. It will also allow the plant to operate at a higher efficiency as the membranes won’t need to be cleaned as regularly.

    Feel free to contact me directly if you want more information.

    Cheers.

    Stuart Carless
    Community Engagement Officer

  2. I in turn contacted Stuart by telphone as I had some concerns with his reply. In particular I couldn’t see how the changes to the inlet conditions would have any bearing on the water quality we receive. Alos he notes that the pre-treatment facility has been completed.
    So the question still stands- why do we have a boil water alert still in place?

  3. I have received another update from Stuart which better clarifies ( ignore the pun) the present situation. Hopefully we will see the boiled water alert removed in the near future rather than the never never. I have copied that in full:

    Denis.
    Apologies for the delay – but here is some further information about Scamander, as discussed last week.

    Hope this answers your questions. If not, feel free to give me another call.

    In relation to the treatment plant:

    · There is no Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) system at Scamander WTP. The pre-treatment system is a flocculation system and clarifier that provides low-turbidity (settled) water to the membrane part of the plant. The pre-treatment system has been operating for a number of months but we have only just completed the proof of performance process. The system will be commissioned shortly. (Pre-treatment was required to provide a consistent feed water quality to the membrane so that it is more efficient and can treat flood water).

    In relation to the Riverview Road project:

    · The main issue that still needs to be resolved in Scamander is that treated water storage does not readily feed into the reticulated system due to insufficient pipework. The Riverview Road pipe will allow us to supply water into the reticulation from the Riverview Road reservoir while the WTP is in operation. This will help to maintain a good chlorine residual within the reticulation.

    In order for the water to be safe for drinking (without boiling), a chlorine residual (disinfectant) is required to reduce the risk of re-contamination. Specifically a chlorine residual is required to control the risk of microorganisms including Escherichia coli if they are present in the water. Chlorine residuals decay in the water over time. Therefore once the water is treated and disinfected at the WTP we need to supply it to customers before the chlorine decays, usually within a few days. In the current system it takes too long to fill the reservoirs and too long to empty them – therefore it is difficult to maintain a chlorine residual. This is why we still need to maintain the Boil Water Alert. Once we have a dedicated pipeline to the Riverview Road Reservoir and a separate pipeline out of the reservoir we will be able to control the water age more effectively and will be in a position to make a submission to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the Boil Water Alert to be lifted.

    Once the Riverview Road works have been completed and greater control over disinfection can be maintained, TasWater is required to complete an intensive water quality monitoring program ensuring the supply meets Tasmanian Drinking Water Guidelines (TDWG) and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) at the customer’s tap. The results from this monitoring program will form part of TasWater’s submission to the DHHS for the Boil Water Alert to be lifted. The testing will take at least three months to complete because of the number of samples that need to be collected. If the submission is accepted and approved by DHHS, TasWater will notify its Scamander customers in writing and via the media.

    Stuart Carless
    Community Engagement Officer

    D (03) 6237 8396

    M 0407 083 240

    F 1300 862 066
    A GPO Box 1393, Hobart TAS 7001
    E [email protected]

    W http://www.taswater.com.au/

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