148 The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Leader of the Opposition) (11 September 2019). Can the Minister for Environment and Water advise:
1. Why have residents in the town of Marree been without clean water since March 2019?
2. Why have the people of Marree been denied the delivery of clean water that other South Australians reasonably expect and receive, given that according to an interview with Jan Whyte on Radio Adelaide on 12 August, SA Water advised that they could provide the people of Marree with water, but only if the people of Marree pay for it?
3. Is it the policy of SA Water to allow any towns or communities that rely on local catchments and groundwater to simply go without clean water when these sources cannot provide enough usable water?
4. Will the town of Marree be forced to continue to rely on the kindness of others to continue to survive, given that the people in the town of Marree were helped by a member of the public who sent 'a truck full of boxes of water'?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): The Minister for Environment and Water has advised:
Marree's drinking water requirements are currently met through private rainwater tanks. SA Water also supplies the township of Marree with a non-drinking water supply, with water drawn from nearby bores.
Marree is one of 19 non-drinking systems operated by SA Water, where the water supplied to the township is deemed unsuitable for drinking as it does not meet the criteria of the Australian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines 2011. Operation of non-drinking systems such as that at Marree are governed by the Water Industry Act 2012.
As a public corporation, SA Water is subject to economic regulation by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) and is required to be consistent with National Water Initiative Pricing Principles developed by the Australian government and state and territory governments in 2010. As a result, a general principle is applied to the provision of infrastructure and services whereby the end user, or main beneficiary, pays.
I understand that SA Water is proposing to upgrade a number of non-drinking supplies in regional areas to drinking water standard as part of its 2020-24 regulatory submission to ESCOSA.