QUESTION: The quality of our drinking water

During Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Human Services, representing the Minister for Environment and Water, a question about drinking water quality.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: We know that one of the effects of climate change in south-eastern Australia will be lower rainfall, reduced run-off and worsening water quality. This provides major challenges for water authorities, and we already see SA Water embarking on a major program to upgrade filtration works on reservoirs servicing South Australian communities.

One of the biggest projects involves an upgrade to the Myponga water treatment plant, and the replacement of chlorine with chloramine. This will affect about 37,000 consumers across the Fleurieu Peninsula. Apparently the Myponga township will be the first affected, and the other communities progressively brought online over the next two years.

I have received some correspondence from a retired scientist with a keen interest in water quality and chemical use. He raises some concerns about the project, which I will raise separately with the minister. However, he also points out that SA Water no longer publishes a comprehensive annual drinking water quality report, and instead publishes only a fraction of that data as appendices to the SA Water Corporation annual report.

My question of the minister is: is SA Water still collecting the same water quality data now as in previous years and, if so, what steps will the minister take to ensure that all water quality data collected is made readily available to the community online without the need for freedom of information requests?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question. I will take it on notice and refer it to the minister in another place and bring back a response.


Response provided on October 24, 2018.

Hon. MICHELLE LENSINK MLC: The Department for Environment and Water has advised that:

SA Water continues to undertake a SA Health approved and comprehensive routine drinking water quality testing program, where they collect the same water quality data now as in previous years.

I am advised that SA Water currently publishes a comprehensive suite of water quality data in its Annual Report, and also on its website and on Data SA.

I understand SA Water has a 'Water Quality Data Request' process where customers can request specific water quality data without the need for freedom of information requests, and I have sought assurances from SA Water that this process is as accessible as possible for members of the community.