8 March 2022

Work starts to improve Yass water - but it's too early for locals to raise their glasses

| Sally Hopman
Start the conversation
Dirty water in saucepan

For residents of the Yass Valley, this is what usually comes out of their taps – but there may soon be some relief in sight with work starting on the water treatment plant. Photo: File.

For residents of the Yass Valley who have had to put up with foul-smelling, discoloured tap water for longer than most can remember, relief may soon be in sight.

Long-awaited upgrade work on the Yass Water Treatment Plant has started and is the first of a three-stage process to better manage the quality of the town’s drinking water.

Under the first stage, bubble plume aeration will be installed at Yass Dam, the raw water pump station will be upgraded and urgent works will be carried out at the water treatment plant. The work is being funded through a $2.5 million grant from the NSW Government’s Housing Acceleration Fund.

For the new Mayor of Yass, Allan McGrath, it’s good news, but he’s not celebrating with a glass of sweet Yass tap water yet.

“I’m very pleased for our residents that this work has finally started,” he said. “They have been suffering long and hard.”

He said over the years, the council had regularly flushed the pipes as a short-term solution, but not much could be done about the taste of the water.

“There is an expectation by sectors of the NSW Government that this first stage will provide a fix for the problem,” he said.

“I hope it does, but council is not necessarily of the opinion that this alone will fix it. We’ll have to wait and see.

“We have to hold the government to account. They said they would fix the water problem regardless of the cost. If this first stage does the job, it will do the job. But there is conflicting advice about whether it will. But at least it’s a start. It’s an important first phase of the project. People have put up with Yass water for long enough. ”

Mayor McGrath, who has lived in Yass for more than 20 years, says the water has always tasted bad.

“It has become worse over the years with the development in the catchment of the Yass River because it comes through farmland. It’s not like Canberra where the water comes through a pristine area.”

Man at podium

Mayor of Yass Valley Allan McGrath is taking a wait-and-see approach to the work which has just begun to improve the town’s water supply. Photo: Yass Valley Council.

He said the quality of the Yass drinking water was “up there” when it came to the most complaints council received from residents. Ironically, the top complaint, he said, was the damage done to the valley by the recent heavy rains – a deluge experienced after many years of drought.

Stage one of the Yass work was scheduled to start in October last year and be finished by January 2022, but the delivery of materials was delayed by COVID-19.

READ ALSO Allan McGrath elected as new Mayor of Yass

Yass Valley Council’s Director of Infrastructure and Assets, James Dugdell, said the first stage of works would reduce the number of days residents experienced the discoloured, smelly water.

“Stage 1 will enable council to manage the treatment process more closely by controlling the rate at which water is processed through the water treatment plant,” he said.

“It will also assist with providing a more consistent quality of raw water to the treatment plant during periods of low rain.”

During construction, both pumps at the Yass Raw Water Pump Station will be removed and refurbished, one at a time, leaving no backup pump. In the unlikely event that the remaining pump fails, the town will be immediately placed on water restrictions.

Mr Dugdell said the design and business case for stages two and three were now being prepared.

“Stage two is a new water treatment plant that will ensure Yass Valley residents consistently receive high-quality drinking water. Stage three will refurbish the existing treatment plant for use when the new plant is undergoing long-term maintenance or experiencing excessive demand.”

A council spokesperson said the total cost of stages two and three would not be known until the business case and design were completed.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.