Wide Bay Water’s Tim Waldron has estimated that it will cost the corporation up to $100 million to get Maryborough’s water and sewerage system up to scratch.
Wide Bay Water’s Tim Waldron has estimated that it will cost the corporation up to $100 million to get Maryborough’s water and sewerage system up to scratch. KARLEILA THOMSEN

$100 million water mess

WIDE BAY Water chief Tim Waldron says the corporation has a $100 million job on its hands to get the Maryborough water and sewerage system up to scratch.

In a scathing indictment of the state of what’s going on underground Mr Waldron said an increase in water rates would be recommended to the Fraser Coast Regional Council as a means of funding the work.

He said he would also approach the State Government Treasurer Andrew Fraser.

“We have immediate problems to address,” Mr Waldron said.

“We can’t delay them. Water affects people’s health. The risk of contamination has to be removed. When it rains, contamination flows. We will do what we have to do.”

Wide Bay Water took over the creaking Maryborough system when it merged with Fraser Coast Water in May.

CCTV has been used to scan the system internally.

“The water mains system in Maryborough is mostly choked. Maybe every water main is clogged by rust.

“Some of the practices in Maryborough at the moment are not very good when compared worldwide. We’ve got to do something.

“The Maryborough council had to decide where best to spend money and what’s hidden underground isn’t obvious until it starts collapsing.

“Maryborough is losing a lot of water underground that hasn’t been well measured in the past.

“We have a $100 million problem over then next 10 years.”

The former mayor of Maryborough City Council, Barb Hovard, said the council knew about the problems under the city but was limited in what it could do.

“Maryborough has been aware for some time we have a lot of work to do underground,” she said.

“During the last council we had plans to do more work but sadly got diverted by amalgamation.

“We had to rely on a constrained rate base and put in what we thought ratepayers could pay ... and there is a shortfall.

“Maryborough City Council was not a high-income council and we had to spread it out with the demand.

“We were aware of it and tried to address it in limited chunks.”

Mr Waldron, who was appointed chairman of the International Water Association Water Loss Task Force a year ago, said Wide Bay Water would borrow to fund the upgrade work but insisted this strategy would be kept at manageable levels.

He believed a rate increase may also be required.
“We’re way behind,” he said.

“It’s so important to have water and sewerage infrastructure in place in advance. It’s got to be planned out well into the future.

“We can rectify it but we don’t manufacture money and it doesn’t grow on trees. We will provide the government with whatever proof is needed.”

Mr Waldron was delighted with the attitude, enthusiasm and quality of the Fraser Coast Water employees that crossed over to Wide Bay Water earlier this year.
 


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