Michelle Lensink

Water Supply, Adelaide Hills

A question put forward to the Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) regarding SA Water holding tanks in the Adelaide Hills.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, representing the Minister for Urban Development and Planning, a question regarding SA Water holding tanks in the Adelaide Hills.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 2 January 2004 an SA Water storage tank located at Hillcrest Road, Crafers West ran out of water. The tank is required to be filled if local residents are to have a reliable supply and adequate water pressure, as it is their mains supply. I understand that this tank ran dry during the second Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983. Local residents were promised then that this would never be allowed to happen again.

CrafersWest residents who have contacted me had to call SA Water several times as the problem persisted from the evening of 2 January and through the day and evening of 3 January, which happened to be one of our first hot summer days for the season, with a predicted temperature of 37 degrees. At 5 p.m. on 3 January residents’ water was restored, but by 7.45 p.m. it was lost again, and the explanation on offer was that the Adelaide Hills present a problem to tank refilling, with a tendency towards the formation of air locks.

Apparently the tank had been filled to the first air lock, which was insufficient to properly fill the tank and rectify the problem.

Residents who called SAWater about their lack of supply were told a variety of things. Each time one household called, which was about nine times over approximately a 30-hour period, they were told that it would be another hour. Another household was told to call someone else as this was not, in fact, SA Water’s problem ‘as it is in the Hills’.

For those people who saw the flames of the Ash Wednesday bushfires, a lack of water supply on a very hot day is terrifying, let alone the lack of drinking water and all the hygiene problems, such as being unable to wash dishes, take a shower, or even flush the loo. Furthermore, I am told by these residents that a similar incident happened about 12 months ago. My questions to the minister are:

1. Is the minister aware of the problem and the consequential risks to residents? Will he guarantee that this problem will not occur again?

2. How does SA Water detect when supply tanks are likely to run dry, and what action does it take?

3. Is SA Water willing to consider installing a larger capacity tank?

4. Are SAWater and the government prepared to consider compensation to residents should a serious situation arise from their negligence?

5. Has SA Water breached any of the conditions of its charter through this incident?

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): I will refer all those questions to the minister in another place and bring back a reply.

 

Monday 3 May 2004

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17 February).

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following information:

1. Is the minister aware of the problem and the consequential risks to residents? Will he guarantee that this problem will not occur again?

There is a problem with the Crafers West area during periods of high demand when residents at elevation may run out of supply when the tank level drops below 50%. The Crafers West area is part of a larger complex system fed from Heathfield, Stirling and Crafers main tanks. The Minister is not in a position to guarantee the problem will not occur again. However every effort to prevent loss of supply will be taken by SA Water.

2. How does SAWater detect when supply tanks are likely to run dry, and what action does it take?

SAWater has telemetry on most supply tanks. Telemetry will be installed at all Crafers area tanks by 31 December 2004. A pressure sustaining valve in the system will be installed to ensure more regular supply of water to the affected tank.

3. Is SA Water willing to consider installing a larger capacity tank?

As well as the short term measures listed above, SA Water will consider long term options which may include installing a larger capacity tank and/or a new main feeding the storage.

4. Are SA Water and the Government prepared to consider compensation to residents should a serious situation arise from their negligence?

A serious situation is difficult to define. During a fire incident power supplies may be disconnected by ETSA, thus disabling pumped transfer of water to storages. SA Water is not responsible for lack of supply during a fire event and residents should not depend solely on reticulated water supplies in such circumstances.

5. Has SA Water breached any of the conditions of its charter through this incident?

SA Water’s customer service charter states that SA Water will provide drinking water upon request if the supply is likely to be disrupted for more than five hours and restore the service within five hours in 95% of cases. In January bottled drinking water was available to residents.

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