Opposition slams ‘meagre’ water savings

The State Opposition has criticised a State Government program to inspect and repair leaky water mains which has saved about two billion litres of water.

Water Minister Mia Davies said detection of non-visible leaks was an important part of the Water Corporation’s work to reduce water loss from its supply system.

But Labor spokesman Dave Kelly said the savings were insignificant when compared with the 30 billion litres that were estimated to have been lost in 2012-13.

“A saving of two billion, while welcome, is really nothing to crow about,” Mr Kelly said.

The WA Auditor General’s 2014 report on the management of water pipes found about $41.5 million per year was needed to replace ageing infrastructure between 2013 and 2019.

But Ms Davies said in a statement the State Government would invest $80 million to renew water mains this financial year to ensure water assets were in a fit-for-purpose condition.

Mr Kelly said the Water Corporation had suffered from extensive budget cuts.

“The Water Corporation board said any further cuts in their capital budget would seriously compromise its ability to meet its service standards.

“Since then the Water Corporation had another $500 million cut out of its budget.”

He said a Labor government would provide more funding.

“We’ll give the Water Corporation the money it believes it needs to properly run its systems,” he said.

“The current government is really using the Water Corporation as a cash cow, taking record levels of dividends out of them to patch holes in the budget elsewhere.

“The Auditor General found the Water Corporation doesn’t perform well when compared to other water utilities of a similar size.”

Ms Davies said the program used acoustic technology to detect hidden leaks, which could then be prioritised for repair.

In May this year, the corporation installed 350 acoustic sensors on 94 km of water mains in the Perth CBD to help identify and reduce the frequency of breaks.

“Workers walk along a pipeline and listen with technology similar to a stethoscope to determine if a non-visible leak is present, then specialist equipment is brought in to pinpoint its location,” she said.

A Water Corporation spokesperson said the corporation has an ongoing program of work to reduce water loss from its water supply systems.

The spokesperson said householders could also check for leaks on their own property, using advice from the Water Corporation.