A Community Rally at 10:00 AM on Saturday, February 18 in Banjo Paterson Park, Yass, is giving Yass Valley residents the chance to show their frustration and sign a petition over the State Government’s failure to meet the election promise of ‘Whatever it takes’ to FIX YASS WATER.

The residents of the area are highlighting the issue by coming together to show they refuse to put up with the water issues which have been plaguing the Council area any longer.

MC for the rally will be well-known local Ross Webster, former Councillor and a long-time advocate for the advancement of Yass water quality, the environment and water catchment,

“If Yass is going to move forward it’s vital we receive state government support without further delay to build a new water treatment plant for water security and quality,” Mr Webster said.

Ross Webster – Former Yass Valley Councillor and Former YVC Sustainable Communities Committee member

Rally organisers state a new $30M Water Treatment Plant (in today’s dollars and required scope) has not been delivered since the 2019 election and the elected politicians have failed to convince the Department of Infrastructure Water (DPIE) to release funds for this stage of work to date. The Yass treatment plant also supplies current and future new developments in Murrumbateman, Bowning and Binalong in the fast-growing region of Yass Valley with a current population of 18,000, and is projected to grow to 27,726 by 2036 according to the Yass Valley Council settlement strategy 2036.

“There was a bidding war for our vote from all sides and the Coalition raised the funding stakes during the last election but haven’t delivered what it takes,” stated rally organiser Jasmin Jones speaking as a resident and mum of five, who also serves as the community’s Deputy Mayor.

Jasmin Jones, speaking as a local resident and mother of five, Current Deputy Mayor

“$2.5 M in Stage 1 tweaks have not secured the safer, secure water supply Yass Valley needs to consistently meet Australian Guidelines. Boil Water Alerts and just 5 hours left of treated drinking water for Yass are several storm-related water security events that Yass has recently experienced and the risk still won’t change without a new treatment plant,” Mrs Jones said.

Local singer-songwriter Daniel Kelly will also loan his talents to the rally performing his iconic YASS WATER ballad.

Local singer-songwriter Daniel Kelly will play his politically poignant song ‘Yass Water’ and ask rallygoers to sing along with the next instalment ‘Yellow-Brown’

Yass resident bottled this sample of the town’s water in January 2023

Gail Reid, a local resident, and grandmother has been fighting for drinkable water and is fed up that election promises from 2019 haven’t been delivered,

“Yass water is ‘not fit for purpose’, you can’t always drink it, wash clothes, bathe or even brush your teeth in it.”

Gail is also fed up with the costs of coping with this falling on residents,

“We, the ratepayers of Yass should not have to resort to buying a water tank or a filtration system when we’re already forking out for Council water rates,” said Gail.

Gail Reid, local resident & Grandmother has provided a petition for local businesses to host & is encouraging rallygoers to sign it when they spot it or at Saturday’s rally

Bec Duncan another local mum of three is frustrated election promises have not been met and is calling on the community to show up and be heard,

“I encourage everyone to come along on Saturday. This rally is a chance for our long-suffering community to show the Government, in large numbers, that we have all had enough.

Ahead of the last election, we were told ‘whatever it takes’ and yet we are still expected to drink undrinkable water, four years later. We will not stop until the good people of the Yass Valley have first-world drinking water and future water security. This is not too much to ask, and the cost will not be borne by ratepayers alone,” said Mrs Duncan.

Bec Duncan, a local mother of three says the cost of a new treatment plant is too high for Yass residents alone

Mrs Jones concurred this is too big for just residents alone to fund, stating Yass has already had to ‘go it alone’ raising the dam wall, receiving no money from state or federal governments last decade.

“Raising the dam made our water rates typically a third more than comparative-sized councils.  Residents already pay $3.70 a kilolitre, and with no further assistance from the State Government, publicly available Council reports state residents would likely cop a hike of 22% or more to annual bills (close to $300 more) based on previous modelling to service the necessary loans to build a new treatment plant. That would be a slap to the other cheek after what our residents have already copped.”

 A report to Council in October 2022 stressed Stage One works were not enough to stop difficulties in supplying treated water to residents during high water flow storm events,

 “…this required the plant to be shut off for periods when it was incapable of treating incoming raw water. Treated water storage was also depleted to critical levels during the periods when water could not be treated. Even after Stage 1 Upgrade works, risk of failure to comply with drinking water guidelines and a potential “Boil Water Alert” during these extreme flooding events remains. This is due to unprecedented levels of deterioration of raw water quality evidenced during the August and October 2022 flood events. As new records are set due to the wetter wet periods, dryer dry periods and increased storm events brought on the changing climate the existing treatment plan will be less able to meet treatment requirements.

In the same report Council advised Stricter guidelines on pathogens brought into effect in September 2022 along with ongoing risks to supply have also been raised by Council staff to the State Government as urgent reasons to proceed directly to stage 2, a new Treatment Plant:

 “Council staff raised concerns <to DPIE> to the security of water supply due to risks remaining after the implementation of Stage 1 Upgrade. These risks are: a) Ageing electrical and control infrastructure b) Chemical storage and handling issues c) Workplace health and safety issues d) Inadequate treated water storage capacity during emergencies e) Control of water reticulation at the WTP site. f) Pathogen risks due to unprotected catchment that came into force in the September 2022 update of the Australian Drinking Water Guideline”

An unappealing bathtub of Yass water

A petition has been distributed to local shops in Yass to host and organisers state it will be available to sign at Saturday’s rally:

To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, the undersigned residents of NSW bring to your attention the urgent and unacceptable situation of the undrinkable town water supply in the Yass Valley. Yass Valley residents call upon the NSW Government to immediately invest in the replacement of the aged town water supply and to ensure the future water security of one of the fastest-growing regions in NSW. 

Yass Valley residents have put up with undrinkable town water for decades and have waited long enough for first-world water quality. We will wait no longer.