Permanent water alert in Scamander angers residents in the Tasmanian seaside town
Frustration is growing in Tasmania’s east coast town of Scamander over water quality issues.
Scamander, on the heavily promoted Great Eastern Drive, has a population of about 500 but that triples with tourists during summer.
During peak demand the water treatment plant cannot cope and could carry dangerous contaminants.
There has been a temporary boil water alert in place for about 10 years but that has recently been upgraded to a permanent alert.
Residents and business owners have had enough, and are stepping up their campaign to have the water supply fixed.
Shack owner Jim Rudling wants answers.
“Whilst I understand that there can be issues in relation to water quality at times, for it to go on over 10 years, you get to a point where it just becomes pure frustration,” he said.
Resident Pam Bretz said it was bad for the town’s image.
“To have to tell people they have to buy water to drink is a shocking thing, this is clean green Tasmania and I think we should be able to drink the water,” she said.
Tourism is suffering, operators say
Accommodation owner Maureen Gill said it was not good enough.
“This is a first-world country and people expect when they travel in a first-world country to be able to drink water and they’re quite horrified when they arrive here and find that they can’t,” she said.
“It’s pristine, it’s clean but the water’s not and it’s just something people are very surprised to find.”
Local hotel operator Brian Forsyth is concerned about the effect it is having on tourism.
“Everybody’s got to have water for something and that comes back to where do we go, why stay here when we’ve got to buy water, when we’ve got to boil water, when we can go up the road to St Helens 15 kilometres, go 50 kilometres down the road to Bicheno,” he said.
“A lot of people will take those choices.”
It is also an extra cost to business owners who supply bottled water to guests.
System upgrades a ‘priority’
TasWater’s Lances Stapleton said they were planning an upgrade and hoped to have the alert lifted by next year
“We have a big range of investments in terms of removing boil water alerts from around the state,” he said.
“Scamander’s been given some priority now so we’re starting the project in the next six to eight weeks.”
Break O’Day Mayor Mick Tucker was optimistic.
“It’s not good enough for anybody no matter where you live and we all accept that but TasWater are in control of that and they’re working hard to try to get funding to try and get on and fix the job,” he said.
But Ms Gill was not convinced.
“It’s the same as what we’ve been told before and all of those promissory dates have come and gone,” she said.
In the meantime Mr Forsyth is taking direct action.
“We are withholding our bill to TasWater, you cannot refuse to pay it but we are withholding it until the water supply is correct,” he said.
Residents want a town meeting with TasWater.
BOIL WATER NOTICE
Scamander – Tasmania – Temperature
December 22 2015: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 21.3C
December 29 2015: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 21.2C
January 5 2016: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 21C
January 12 2016: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 22C
January 27 2016: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 21C
February 2 2016: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 21.7C
February 16 2016: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 20.3C
February 23 2016: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 21.2C
March 4 2016: Scamander (Tasmania) – Temperature 21.1C
“No guideline is set due to the impracticality of controlling water temperature.
Drinking water temperatures above 20°C may result in an increase in the number of
Temperature is primarily an aesthetic criterion for drinking water. Generally, cool water is more palatable than warm or cold water. In general, consumers will react to a change in water temperature. Complaints are most frequent when the temperature suddenly increases.
The turbidity and colour of filtered water may be indirectly affected by temperature, as low water temperatures tend to decrease the efficiency of water treatment processes by, for instance, affecting floc formation rates and sedimentation efficiency.
Chemical reaction rates increase with temperature, and this can lead to greater corrosion of pipes and fittings in closed systems. Scale formation in hard waters will also be greater at higher temperatures…
Water temperatures in major Australian reticulated supplies range from 10°C to 30°C. In some long, above-ground pipelines, water temperatures up to 45°C may be experienced…
The effectiveness of chlorine as a disinfectant is influenced by the temperature of the water being dosed. Generally higher temperatures result in more effective disinfection at a particular chlorine dose, but this may be counterbalanced by a more rapid loss of chlorine to the atmosphere (AWWA 1990).