A significant community response followed our front-page article from May 26 regarding the report presented to local Councillors about the costs of an upgrade to the water treatment plant.

Director of Infrastructure and Assets at Yass Valley Council James Dugdell

Director of Infrastructure and Assets at Yass Valley Council, James Dugdell, said the report was designed to provide information for the Councillors on what impact it would have if Council received no further government funding for the project.

He said he also wanted the people of the Yass Valley to be aware of just how much it could cost them should the government not provide further help and insisted it should again be a pertinent issue for them as they vote in the upcoming elections.

Residents already pay $3.40 a kL and with no further assistance would cop a $260 or 22% hike to a typical year of bills according to council’s financial modelling

A typical residential bill for 2021-22 with no subsidy would hit $1,440 to service a new 22-million-dollar loan for the remaining project’s stages.

The report states ‘…the combination of very high water bills and poor quality of water will make it painful to the households. It is necessary to seek the highest amount of government subsidy.’ 

“I think the quality of the water in Yass and the support of the State and Federal Governments is something that the population should be taking to their Federal and State Members and any candidate wishing to stand in the next set of elections.”

“I think it will be something that people will raise, and with the additional information we’ve provided the Council, I’m hoping all the Councillors raise it every time they speak with the Federal and State members as well,” he said.

An obvious question from the report would be, “if we are forced to pay the extra rates, does it guarantee the issues with Yass water will be corrected?”

The aging Yass treatment plant failed to deliver safe drinking water in 2020 triggering a week of boil water alerts

James said it was impossible to guarantee that issues would be completely corrected by an upgraded treatment plant but said the issues would certainly be lessened.

“I can never guarantee 100%, but it will continue to produce water at the Australian Drinking Water Guideline requirements for the majority of the time.”

“You can never guarantee it 100% because it’s a water treatment plant, but we would be aiming to have a fairly high rate of compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines well above 90%.”

“The goal of the new plant is to make sure we do meet those drinking water guidelines for the significant majority of the time,” he said.

James wanted to assure the community that whilst there are issues with the colour and taste of the water, it remains safe, according to Department of Health testing.

“We maintain the testing with the Department of Health to make sure the water is safe, and as you could see, we had an issue last year or the year before where we had a boil-water alert, and that’s because we maintain those things.”

Samples were taken during the testing process over storm events that triggered a Boil Water Alert in 2020. Photo supplied

“The colour and taste doesn’t meet the requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines all the time, due to the plant that we have and it meets them the majority of the time, but it’s not a high enough percentage as what we would like it to be,” he said.

James asserted that the treatment plant was something that will eventually happen and again encouraged the pressuring of State and Federal members to increase their support of the project.

“I believe it is something that will ultimately happen, and that’s why we put forward a report explaining how much it costs the water users of the Yass Valley to actually go through this process.”

“I think we should be pressuring our State and Federal members to provide some support this time, seeing as we had to go it on our own last time,” he said.

Our State Member for Goulburn, Wendy Tuckerman, was awaiting further information before making a considered statement.

“I am aware of the information reported to Council and their response. I continue to wait for determination on stage two and three of the project and the implication of Council’s final cost analysis to the community.”

Have an opinion on the costs of an upgraded water treatment plant? Please send it in writing to editor@yassvalleytimes.com.au

Photo credit at top: GS Aerial Imaging – Yass dam February 11, 2020

Max O’Driscoll