Ben Lomond Water- Scamander Water Supply

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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.


Comments

Ben Lomond Water- Scamander Water Supply — 1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the chance to air a few opinions!

    Very interested to read your post and your letter to the Examiner which goes a long way to explaining the absurd structure we now have – 3 more groups of public servants to supply water to 500,000 inhabitants!

    And regarding public servants, Mr Case should recall who pays his, no-doubt substantial, salary; it is we the rate-payers who pay him and his cohorts. Consequently, we would have appreciated a little less proclaiming of his qualifications and of his patronizing “this community” at the meeting. Had the authority been more transparent and supplied periodic information over the last years the mood of the meeting might well have been very different. As you say, “sleek wording” was indeed his style. Personally, I’m sick of spin.

    (By-the-by, there was a engineer from Ben Lomond, in civvies, what he fondly imagined to be coast-wear, in amongst the crowd, apparently to sniff the mood; was he in your head-count? And do we have any idea what it cost US to have this unasked-for circus descend on the town?)

    Mr Case also said that the Ben Lomond Authority was expected to pay back to Councils each year, so, please correct me if I am mistaken, we have:
    – eight not-for-profit Councils with elected representatives who are, in theory at least, answerable to the electors,
    – who have created a statutory(?) body with appointed officials who are, in theory, answerable to the Councils but,
    – who are expected to return a “profit” to the Councils.
    A nice piece of bureaucratic maneuvering leaving the customers/consumers nowhere, and of which Sir Humphrey would have been proud.

    One comment Mr Case made was that all consumers would pay the same usage charge at about ninety cents. How egalitarian! What did not occur to me until later was: what are Scamander’s SUPPLY charges and how do THEY compare to other communities.

    I know of more than one local business person who is refusing to pay their water rates until the supply is potable. The idea has merit!

    It was obvious within minutes that the Ben Lomond representatives at the meeting had no willingness to smooth the way for residents and no authority to do anything even had they been willing. A waste of time and a great deal of money.

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