TasWater will supply treated water to Pioneer if it receives the unanimous support of the Dorset Council, and regulatory approval.
In the TasWater government business enterprise hearing on Wednesday TasWater’s chief executive Mike Brewster revealed its new position on the issue, in response to questioning from Labor MHR Michelle O’Byrne.
“We have gone back to the Dorset Council and said, ‘If you’re prepared to support this unanimously, we will pipe the water in’,” he said.
A TasWater spokesperson confirmed, “If there is unanimous support for a reticulated water supply by Dorset Council, TasWater will supply Pioneer with a reticulated water supply, once it has been cleared by our regulators”.
The Dorset Council will vote on the matter at its next meeting on Monday, December 16.
Seven out of nine councillors when contacted by The Examiner indicated they intended to support treated water. Two could not be reached.
“Our view right from the very beginning was that tanks were not a suitable solution for Pioneer,” Dorset mayor Greg Howard said.
“I said to [the water authority, in 2012], ‘Look, if you don’t put piped water into Pioneer, in ten years time we’ll still be sitting here with the same problem’,” he said.
Councillor Edwina Powell said, “[The tanks were] a make-do solution and it’s been patently inadequate, there’s been a lot of blame shifting, but the bottom line is that TasWater has an obligation to any community to supply clean, safe, drinking water.”
In 2012, it was discovered that the drinking water at Pioneer and other North-East towns was contaminated with unsafe quantities of lead and other metals.
Lead consumption can cause adverse health impacts in adults including kidney damage, and is particularly harmful for children, with possible effects including damage to the brain and nervous system, lower IQ, autism, and lifelong behavioral problems including violence.
Pioneer residents were issued with rainwater tanks by TasWater, but all other towns with lead contamination, including Herrick, six kilometres from Pioneer, and Gladstone, its neighbouring town on the other side, were supplied with treated water.
This year, it was discovered that the water in some tanks also contained unsafe quantities of lead and other metals due to contaminants leaching from roof paint, downpipes, and guttering.
Mr Brewster has previously said the cost of providing reticulated water to Pioneer would be $2.5 million to $4 million.
Residents would be charged normal water rates after connection.