The Yass Water Treatment Plant is over 30 years old and has always had discolouration and taste issues which have worsened in recent years including a ‘Boil Water Alert’ in August 2020.

As a result, Council developed a plan to upgrade the existing treatment plant and sought DPE (Water) and State Government funding for the delivery of an upgraded plant. The State Government agreed to provide $10M through the Housing Acceleration Fund (HAF) to complete a design and business case and construction.

No agreement was reached with DPE (Water) on the final upgrade and in an attempt to break the deadlock Council commissioned a Peer Review of the initial design and agreed to take a three-staged approach i.e.

  • Stage 1 included new pump controllers and electrical switchboard at the Raw Water Pump Station, a new bubble plume aeration system in the dam and improved dosing and monitoring systems within the treatment plant
  • Stage 2 included major upgrade works to include construction of a new Water Treatment Plant (either an upgrade of the existing plant or an entirely new plant)
  • Stage 3 works include the refurbishment of the existing systems to provide some redundancy in supply (if not used as part of the new plant in Stage 2)

From this work the total cost of a new upgraded treatment plan was in excess of $30M.

Samples taken by Yass Valley Council during the testing process over storm events which triggered the 2020 Boil Water Alert. Photo supplied

An agreement was reached with DPE (Water) to undertake the Stage 1 works and the Housing Acceleration Fund (HAF) released $3.75M for the $10M funding for these works. Stage 1 has been completed however Stages 2 and 3 have not been supported by DPE (Water) who have required a 12-month pause on any further works to assess the water quality improvement in the Stage 1 works.

For the past 2 years Council staff have working on delivery of the Stage 1 works as well as engaging in extensive negotiations with DPE (Water) to proceed with the Stage 2 and 3 designs and business case as a single project. This will reduce the total time and the design development and construction costs. DPE (Water) has not agreed to support this approach and consequently no further funding from HAF has been released to Council.

Council says it has no funding in the bank from the state or green light from the State Government (Water department) to replace the ageing treatment plant, photographed by The Times on Friday, Feb 2023

The remaining $6.25M of the $10M commitment is not in Council’s bank account but remains with the State Government. Until an agreement on works beyond Stage 1 is reached funds will not be released to Council.

Council staff are continuing to work with DPE (Water) and the HAF to determine if any of the Stage 2 and 3 works could progress in advance of the 12-month pause for water quality testing. In principle agreement on some works to address WHS issues, chemical storage, environmental management, and electrical systems has been reached but these do not address the current water quality and security issues. The HAF has indicated that a business case for the complete water treatment plant upgrade needs to be provided regardless of the estimated cost.

Yass dam overflowing 2022-Picture-Judith Perkins

Council acknowledges that funding has not been pursued for the upgrades to the pipe network between the treatment plant and households in Yass. The reason for this is our focus has been on improving the source of water to the treatment plant and the water treatment processes at the plant. Any works on the pipe network without dealing with the water source problems will simply see the problem return.

Councillors and staff will continue to work with DPE (Water), the HAF and the Local Member for Goulburn, Wendy Tuckerman MP, to deliver this important infrastructure upgrade for the community.

Click here for last Wednesday’s Yass Valley Times story ‘Tuckerman in the deep end over Yass water.’