Floods overwhelm pumping stations


Fans dry carpets at the Clarion Hotel City Park Grand in Tamar Street.

Fans dry carpets at the Clarion Hotel City Park Grand in Tamar Street.

MORE than 200 businesses called Launceston’s council for assistance after heavy rainfall and flash-flooding battered the city.

The majority of calls for assistance were from businesses and individuals in the Invermay area, with the majority asking for help with sandbagging, Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said.

An antiquated combined system had wreaked havoc upon the people of Invermay, who dealt with water containing raw sewage flooding their homes and businesses.

As a result of the rainfall in the Tamar catchment, 14 out of 150 sewage pump stations servicing Launceston overflowed, as well as 10 combined system pump stations which ‘‘operated as designed’’, a TasWater spokesperson said.

Alderman van Zetten said the council was ‘‘frustrated’’ that the system had not yet been upgraded.

‘‘[It’s] an older system that’s been around for quite some time obviously, but wasn’t able to handle the flow of water when we had those really heavy downpours,’’ Alderman van Zetten said.

‘‘That raised some issues and we feel for those businesses and individuals that were concerned.’’

Bass Greens MHA Andrea Dawkins criticised TasWater’s infrastructure in the Launceston area.

‘‘Invermay had untreated sewage spilling onto the streets, which posed a huge health risk,’’ Ms Dawkins said.

‘‘It also uncovered the infrastructure upgrades needed if plans to move the university campus to the area go ahead.’’

The sewage overflows occurred for ‘‘varying periods’’ but increased river flows due to rain meant ‘‘the environment impact was significantly diluted’’, the TasWater spokesperson said.

The overflows highlighted the importance Launceston Sewerage Improvement project, the spokesperson said.

‘‘The project will result in the replacement of six existing, under performing sewage treatment plants and a significant upgrade of the Ti-Tree Bend Sewage Treatment Plant.

‘‘The project is expected to cost in excess of $200 million.’’

Alderman van Zetten said claims new developments such as the new Bunnings Hardware store had put increased pressure on Invermay’s system were false.

‘‘That’s not the case because the Bunnings and other new developments are on a separate system, and it’s not in the combined system.’’

He said council would continue working with TasWater to prevent a repeat of the recent events.

‘‘Obviously this is a once in 50-year rainfall event, something that’s extremely unusual, but again it could happen [again] very soon, but we want to continue to make sure, as we’ve done in Kings Meadows.’’


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