Boiled up with Scamander Water

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.
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.

Ben Lomond Water- Scamander Water Supply

Angry residents have been looking for answers as to why the water supply for Scamander hasn’t improved since the Ben Lomond Water seized the assets under a state proclamation from the Break O’Day municipality.

I say seized as there has never been any attempt to get a detailed assessment as to the value of the assets handed over nor as there ever been any detailed discussions as to what compensation would be paid to the council. A very murky story indeed and one which I am sure citizens of this community now are regretting. I try to get an open enquiry at the time but no one seemed particularly interested in what I foresaw as a great injustice. See letter

The sweetener which convinced locals that this wouldn’t be a bad deal was that the mud which often came through the line probably as a result of chlorination gave the locals the jitters. That this body would fix things up seemed like a good thing. Never did they realise that the downside was going to be quick and substantial increases to their water bills and less than no improvement to the water quality in what must be at least two years.

Now that I have attracted your attention lets go to that meeting that the residents of Scamander organised about two weeks ago. Mr. Barry Cash CEO of Ben Lomond Water , his Corporate Secretary Mrs. Carrolyn Pillans, and two engineers one by the name of Mr. Glen Rowlands and the other one who didn’t say a thing anyhow and therefore can remain nameless.

So Mr. Cash comes with a rather flash team to mesmerise us with all the good work that Ben Lomond Water has been doing in this part of the state whilst never really conceding what a hash they have made of creating a reasonable drinking water for local residents.

It seems strange that after taking over the system bequeathed by the local council that we should be on a long term full scale boil water alert. It even seems stranger to me that all residents were not personally notified. After all such a situation only occurred on a few occasions when the water system was run by our council. The catchment area for Scamander water comes from a pristine wilderness about as ‘Green’ as Tasmania can get except for the last kilometre or so where uncontrolled grazing occurs. Water treatment problems generally occur only after heavy rains when turbidity problems made chlorination difficult to control. High e-coli counts and other measures of water pollution are mainly a problem due to the local grazing situation just mentioned and during low flow periods which are generally a feature of the mid-summer dry conditions.

Mr. Case prefaced his presentation about the need to have a good image in the water quality stakes so that tourism would continue to flourish on the East Coast. Sleek wording was very much a feature of his talk-show. But the reality of the situation is that apparently now that we are getting a new membrane filtration system we are very much the guinea pigs of the state and may have to keep the boil water alert going for several months regardless of the water quality delivered until such time as the bureaucrats say that it has passed the necessary evaluation period. This talkfest by Mr. Cash was particularly painful when one remembers that in June 2010 he announced that this plant would be built and commissioned within a couple of months.Scamander Water Treatment Plant

The question of whether slime removal may or may not be removed as chlorination is still a post membrane treatment requirement still hasn’t been addressed. Mr. Case however pointed out that maybe more pretreatment may be required such as alum additions to make the system work.  Mr. Case fobbed off any detailed answers to questions and by time the meeting closed many of the locals were disgusted.