Salmon producer Tassal off the hook over water restrictions, says TasWater

Apr 16, 2018
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Updated April 16, 2018 15:11:02

TasWater says salmon company Tassal is not to blame for stage one water restrictions at Orford and Triabunna, but concedes it “didn’t help”.

The region has been asked to limit its outdoor water use by 20 per cent, as the Prosser Dam dwindles.

Earlier in the year Tassal used the dam over two days to draw huge amounts of water in order to bathe its Okehampton Bay salmon in order to prevent gill disease.

The company has a desalination barge it uses to convert seawater into fresh water at the farm’s site, but it was out of action.

At a community meeting over the weekend, many angry residents blamed Tassal for the towns’ water restrictions.

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But TasWater spokesman Trent Swindells said it was due to low rainfall.

“What we’re talking about is a long-term lack of rainfall in the catchment,” Mr Swindells said.

He said it had been one year since there had been any significant flow into the dam.

While TasWater detected high usage when Tassal accessed the dam in January, he said the company has not caused the restrictions.

“What we are saying is the amount of water detected being used in January isn’t sufficient in and of itself to have caused the water restrictions,” he said.

“If you’ve got a bucket of water that isn’t being filled and someone takes a scoop out of it, obviously that doesn’t help.”

He said the towns would be on restrictions anyway, and the restrictions also applied to Tassal.

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Residents want to be kept up to date

Jim Playsted, a resident and candidate in the upcoming Prosser election, said the water issue was divisive in the area.

“The towns are struggling to come to grips with it and I hope one day we’ll all be better friends, but at the moment there’s a lack of information and secrecy in some respects,” he said.

“You’ve almost got to run a High Court case to get the information.”

TasWater has not revealed how many litres of water were drawn from the dam over the two days, but it is understood to be tens of thousands of litres.

On its Facebook page, Tassal said fresh water was a necessary part of its farming operations.

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“We need to bathe our fish for amoebic gill disease, this requires treating our fish with fresh water and keeps them healthy,” the post said.

It said it uses its desalination plant to produce water.

“The unit required maintenance early this year, and while we accessed some water locally for this short interim (a couple of days), we went to the greater effort to transport fresh water from our onsite storage dam supply at Nubeena to Okehampton,” Tassal said in a statement.

“Fortunately our reverse osmosis unit was back in operation in less than a week.”

Last week, the Federal Court dismissed a bid by conservationists to invalidate Tassal’s environmental approval for the Okehampton Bay site.

Topics: water-supply, water-management, triabunna-7190, orford-7190

First posted April 16, 2018 14:56:43

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