Victoria Shadow Minister for Urban Water Louise Asher
Labor Failing On Water Recycling
Victor P Taffa
The Brumby Government is dragging its feet on water recycling with some major infrastructure water recycling projects facing delays, Shadow Minister for Urban Water Louise Asher said today.
City West Water’s Sustainability Report 2009 reveals that for the past three years City West Water has failed to meet its Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for water recycling and the water recycling targets for 2008-09 and 2009-10 were reduced because water recycling infrastructure projects, Altona Recycled Water Project and West Werribee Dual Supply Project, have been delayed.
The report revealed City West Water’s water recycling target for 2006-07 was 1,242 megalitres. However, only 101.2 megalitres of recycled water was supplied.
The target for 2007-08 was 1,330 megalitres, but the amount of recycled water supplied was 286.3 megalitres.
In 2008-09 the target was drastically reduced to 510 megalitres and the amount of recycled water supplied was 469 megalitres. The target for 2009-2010 is again 510 megalitres.
A note in the report states “The target is smaller than previous years due to the delay in implementing major projects such as the Altona Recycled Water Project and the West Werribee Dual Supply Project.” (p.19)
The Altona Recycled Water Project was announced by the Labor Government in the 2007-08 State Budget and involves upgrading the existing Altona Treatment Plant to provide Class A recycled water for industrial and residential use.
The Budget Papers, a government press release dated 7 November 2007 and a press release from industrial user, Qenos, all state the project was to be completed in 2009.
Two years later in October 2009 when the project should have been completed, Water Minister Tim Holding and Qenos issued press releases stating construction had just begun and the project would be completed by the end of 2010.
Ms. Asher said it appears Tim Holding is more concerned with having his picture taken at the Altona Treatment Plant than delivering the project on time. A colour picture of the Water Minister at the plant appears in both press releases issued by Qenos, as well as in City West Water’s Sustainability Report.
“Victorians want and need water, not glossy A4 pictures of a smiling Water Minister who is unable to deliver water recycling projects on time.” Ms. Asher said.
The Altona Treatment Plant (previously known as Enviro Altona Wastewater Treatment Plant) was plagued with problems. The plant was delivered as a Private Public Partnership, yet the contractor, Simon Engineering, became insolvent when the parent group Henry Walker Elton went into receivership in 2005.
The West Werribee Dual Supply Project, which involves delivering Class A recycled water to residential housing developments, is also delayed.
The project was announced in 2005 (Werribee Water Projects Leading Australia 29 June 2005). However, a recent press release by City West Water states “While we regret the delay, with funding now confirmed, we can assure residents and those looking to move to the area that recycled water will be readily available in 2013”. (Multi Million Dollar Boost for West Werribee Recycled Water 8 December 2009)
“Victorians have been doing their bit lugging buckets of water, installing household water saving measures and paying for large hikes in their water bills. Now we see the Labor Government is unable to provide water recycling infrastructure projects on time to ease the burden on Victorians.” Ms. Asher said.
Water is a precious commodity and the fact is that everytime a Government places a premium on the delivery of water it is the pensioners and low paid workers who bear the burden of the costs. Water recycling is an efficient way of saving water and eases the burden on the delivery of the product to the community.