Michelle Lensink

SA Water - Trade Waste

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Water and the River Murray on the subject of trade waste.

19 June 2013

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The Liberal opposition has been contacted by several small businesses that are being required to implement various trade waste measures including grease traps and dissolved air flotation devices and the like. In particular, some of them are very small operations which do not process a large amount of food and they have therefore questioned that they are being required to install a device of a minimum of 1,000 litres which is required to be pumped out four times a year with all the attendant costs and so forth. My questions for the minister are:

1.Are there minimum specifications for very low risk operations and, if so, what are they?

2.What categories of businesses have been granted exemptions so far?

3.What is the situation for mobile vendors?

4.Do small businesses have any appeal rights to SA Water's decisions?

5.Is SA Water using an Australian standard to determine the rules, or is it devising its own, and have these changed since it started rolling the program out?

6.How many permits have been issued so far across South Australia?

7.What savings does SA Water expect will occur through reduction of load into its sewer system?

8.Can the minister confirm that the sewer pipe networks in Adelaide's metropolitan inner rim are at full capacity, so high density developments are being required to install on-site storages?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:34): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions—a number of questions requiring quite detailed answers that I do not have before me. They were on categories of exemptions available, mobile vendors and how they access sewerage pipes and waste management, the appeal rights that are available, Australian standards and how they are being applied, how many permits so far have been given out, the savings expected from reductions, and the capacity of the sewerage system.

I can say that we treat the system as one whole system and that what one person puts down a sewer has an impact on other businesses and, of course, householders in other parts of the system, so we need to be able to monitor the waste that goes down our sewerage system. We need to be able to make sure that, where appropriate, industry in particular that puts fatty wastes and other sorts of solids down that system has a mechanism on site where it can be filtered out and not have an impact on the system for everybody else. Otherwise, of course, we would have to be increasing our sewerage system at great cost to the whole system which has to be passed on to those users. But I undertake to take those detailed questions on notice and bring back an answer for the honourable member.

25 September 2013

In reply to the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (19 June 2013).

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): As the Minister for Water and the River Murray I have received this advice:

1.There are no minimum specifications for customers discharging trade waste. All customers discharging trade waste into SA Water's sewerage system must consistently achieve acceptable discharge quality (as set out in SA Water's Restricted Wastewater Acceptance Standards) to protect the operation of the sewerage collection and treatment systems.

2.SA Water has not given blanket exemptions for the pre-treatment requirement to any discharger category as there might be significant differences in the operation of seemingly comparable business operations. SA Water considers the likely quality and quantity of discharges from the information provided in each application to discharge trade waste.

3.SA Water's requirements are applied equally to discharges to sewer from mobile vendors as for businesses with a fixed location of operation.

4.SA Water endeavours to resolve all complaints at the first point of contact. There are further opportunities to escalate the matter within SA Water if the customer is not satisfied with the outcome. If still dissatisfied, the business may seek the assistance of:

·Energy and Water Ombudsman of South Australia for billing, credit, connection, supply, marketing and customer service related complaints; and/or

·Ombudsman SA for complaints regarding SA Water's processes and decisions to determine if they are fair, reasonable and lawful; and/or

·Office of the Small Business Commissioner which provides a dispute resolution process for small businesses.

5.Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) developed the 'Australian Sewage Quality Management Guidelines' which was released in June 2012 and which SA Water uses to audit its Trade Waste procedures.

SA Water's requirements for food and beverage businesses have changed in response to changes in those business types. For example, the trend towards using vegetable oils instead of animal fats when cooking has increased the time needed for effective contaminant separation in an arrestor, and the large growth in sales of take-away coffee (with the attendant rinses of milk jugs) has led to the need for pre-treatment at businesses where previously it might not have been necessary.

6.SA Water has approximately 9,000 trade waste customers who have received authorisation to discharge trade waste within discharge permits.

7.The reduction of loads into the sewer system is being driven by system performance issues and EPA requirements, not to provide savings to SA Water. Through load reductions we should see a reduction in odours and chokes in the network and less corrosion issues. In addition the EPA requires SA Water to reduce nutrient concentrations in effluent discharge to Gulf Waters.

8.SA Water constantly undertakes sewer monitoring, flow and pollutant loadings, thus enabling hydraulic modelling of the sewer network which indicates that there are areas of the inner rim running at design capacity.

SA Water does not require high density developments to install on-site storages, but this may be subject to the requirements of the Office of the Technical Regulator under the plumbing code.

For larger trade waste dischargers or multi tenanted sites e.g. shopping centres, SA Water may seek to regulate flow to sewer through appropriately sized pre-treatment devices.

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