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Question: Safe Drinking Water for SA

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:52): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question on the topic of safe drinking water to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: The SACOSS report, Falling Through the Gaps, has revealed that there is 'a lack of direction and accountability' among government agencies when it comes to regulating water supply, and that reliable access to safe drinking water is inconsistent across our state. In particular, smaller regional and remote communities do not have reliable access to safe water services, as has been previously shown, and this is despite being charged standard prices for water that is not safe, as is the case in Oodnadatta.

South Australia Health is responsible for ensuring safe drinking water, and is ensuring that it is provided under those conditions regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act 2011 and the associated Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2012. My questions to the minister are:

1. How is the safety of drinking water monitored and measured throughout South Australia?

2. Are you confident that your department has an accurate, complete and up-to-date understanding of the quality of drinking water in our state?

3. Will the government take up the recommendation of SACOSS of a statewide stocktake of current water supply arrangements for safe drinking water for South Australia?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:53): I thank the honourable member for her question. It is certainly history, as the honourable member suggested, that the Safe Drinking Water Act 2011 is the responsibility of SA Health, and it does regulate drinking water supplies. The government has a strong commitment to strengthening reliable and healthy water supplies across the state, and in that context in June 2020 the Premier announced that water supplies to the regional communities of Oodnadatta, Marree, Marla, Terowie, Manna Hill and Yunta will be upgraded by SA Water to provide safe drinking water over the next four years.

Oodnadatta and the other five communities are currently supplied with water by SA Water that is suitable for domestic use but not for drinking, food preparation or cleaning teeth. The upgrades, costing $41 million, will provide safe drinking water to nearly 350 properties over the next four years. The government is demonstrating its commitment to provide safe and reliable drinking water to country South Australians, and I am certainly happy to look at and consider the comments of SACOSS.

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