Polley blasts TasWater over raw sewage spill

NORTHERN Midlands Mayor Kim Polley has questioned TasWater's maintenance regime after raw sewage last week spewed into the South Esk River, used as drinking water by some Northern Midlands residents.

Northern Midlands Mayor Kim Polley

Northern Midlands Mayor Kim Polley

Cr Polley said the spill had affirmed her lack of confidence in the water company's ability to maintain some aged pump stations, and its ability to sufficiently alert the council and residents to contamination spills.

Cr Polley said the council and residents were still in the dark about when the spill from a Perth pump station had actually started, and how much raw sewage had been released.

She said one resident had told her that trucks had been used to remove sewage from the river banks, and seven or eight truck movements had been counted.

``It's a disgrace and it wasn't just a small spill,'' Cr Polley said.

``A lot of people use this water for stock and domestic use.

``I know people that have a pipe straight from the river right to the kitchen sink.''

The water company was alerted by a Perth resident to the spill on Friday, and it notified downstream residents on the same day.

It informed the council the Monday after the long weekend.

A TasWater spokeswoman yesterday could not confirm how many litres of raw sewage had been released, or when the pump station had stopped working.

She said the company was reviewing the cause of the spill.

Cr Polley wrote to TasWater chairman Miles Hampton in late February to question whether maintenance had been cut back in the region.

He replied: ``We have not cut back on our maintenance efforts in the region, however, the effectiveness of the works program is under review.

``In the short term, we will be applying a higher than normal attention to pumping sites.

``In the median term, we will be reviewing our preventative maintenance regime to provide a higher level of confidence in our system's ability to meet the task.''

Cr Polley questioned how the spill could have occurred if the company's maintenance scheme operated at the level stated.

``It's just not good enough _ it's appalling,'' she said.

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