Water and Sewerage:
A Solution for the Southern Region

At a recent meeting of the Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority, it resolved that the Councils would work together to fix a range of water and sewerage issues.

“Water and sewerage is a Local Government responsibility in Tasmania and should remain so. But State Government cooperation is needed to fix some of the outstanding issues.” said Alderman Valentine.

The Chairman of the STCA, Alderman Rob Valentine, revealed that well before the current State Government Review was announced at the end of September 2006, the Southern Councils had written to the State Government requesting support for a whole of Government approach to resolving water and sewerage issues in the South.

“As a group of Councils we recognised that we needed to take a more regional approach to these issues.

“To do that we needed the State Government to adopt a single approach.

“It is incredibly difficult to get agreement on issues when you have to deal with up to eight different Government departments, business enterprises and other entities.”

The Councils have identified a number of specific areas where they need the State’s co-operation, “We need the Government to review the borrowing limits that the Department of Treasury and Finance puts on Councils so that, like any normal business, we can borrow the money we need to invest in our water and waste water businesses. We need the State Government to review legislation on headworks charging — an issue that the Local Government Association has been trying to get resolved for quite some time.

“We believe the Government should consider appointing one Minister with responsibility for Water and Waste Water so the Government as a whole can develop some real understanding about the complexities of this business.” Ald Valentine said.

Alderman Valentine went on to say, “The Councils are well aware of the issues that have received extensive publicity in recent weeks:

  • the increased level of Tourism that has put pressure on infrastructure on the East Coast;
  • the changing use of housing in areas like the Southern Beaches that has led to environmental problems.

We as Councils want to work together to find solutions to these issues, but at the moment the State Government has tied one of our hands behind our backs.

We need it to help us — rather than indications that they may take away assets in which our communities have invested over many years.”

“The reality is,” said Alderman Valentine, ”that, for much of the South, we have an abundant and secure supply of water from the Derwent, we have good infrastructure and excellent staff to manage it, there is a range of innovative projects that Councils are wanting to pursue in the area of re-use water and many Councils are continuing to invest in new infrastructure to promote appropriate economic development.

“On the down side we have half of one percent of the population in the region affected by boil water alerts, a number of key tourism areas that have small resident populations that need better infrastructure and we have a small number of areas where septic tanks have begun to fail and are causing environmental and public health issues that we need to resolve.

“There is no massive failure of our systems on a regional basis.

“There is, rather, a determination together to deal with ongoing issues that the Councils as providers of water and sewerage services have been doing on behalf of the Community for decades.”