Ringarooma residents have had to learn to not open their mouths while they are in the shower and alert visitors they can’t drink the water from the taps.
They have also had to learn that white clothing, towels and linens are likely to be stained and hot water cylinders and water tanks will need to be cleaned regularly.
These provisions have been the result of a community who has had to learn to adapt after three years of dealing with brown, dirty water delivered via an ageing water infrastructure system to their homes.
The town is one of about 20 in Tasmania that is on current “boil water alerts” issued by Tasmania’s water and sewerage body, TasWater. There are also several that are on “do not consume” alerts.
Residents Jill Singline, Marianne Koster and Kerrie Hales said they had begun to give up on any hope the water would be fixed.
“I’d like to think that I’d be able to turn on the tap and drink a glass of water before I die"KERRIE HALES
Mrs Singline, 80, has lived at Ringarooma for 56 years and said she has never felt confident in drinking water from the taps in the area.
The state government announced on Tuesday it would take control of the council-governed body next year. Under the plan, the government would bring the water corporation’s capital works expenditure plan forward by five years. The three women said they didn’t blame TasWater for the problem but it had inherited an existing issue.
“We are a country town, they forget about us. They have forgotten about our community,” Ms Hales said.
Post Office owner and long-time water quality advocate David Shaw said in the past three years the water quality had gotten marginally better but it was still a long way to go before it was fixed.
“We own an AirBnB and we have to tell people they can’t drink the water and that the towels are stained from it. We get some feedback about it. This week a lady from Portugal pointed out the towels,” he said.
A treatment plant has been built in the area but has yet to be commissioned by TasWater, which Mr Shaw said would hopefully solve most of the issues.
He said the water corporation had not been in contact with the community to tell them when the treatment plant would come online but the first stage is expected to happen in early 2017.
Mr Shaw said the water quality had been a long-standing issue for the community and the problem was a lack of communication about how it would be fixed.
He said he hoped the government’s announcement that it would take over TasWater next year would bring some change for the town.
Every week, Ringarooma resident Mike Luck packs up his car, drives it to the recreation ground and fills up 60-litres of fresh drinking water.
He has been doing that since he and his family moved to the area from Pioneer about a year ago.
Since the town has been on a Boil Water alert, TasWater installed three tanks at the recreation ground for the community to use for its drinking water.
However in the years since, two of the tanks have been removed and now there is only one.
Mr Luck said the water is used for drinking, washing vegetables and cooking and to brush his teeth.
He said while it was a pain to have to fill up his drinking water every week, he said he felt for the elderly in the community.
“We have a lady who lives next door to us and every week she comes up here to fill up her bottles,” he said.
The woman is unable to stockpile large amounts of water because she can’t carry them to and from her house.
“It’s a pain. But we don’t have a choice really.”MIKE LUCK
Mr Luck said his family moved to Ringarooma because they wanted a bigger house but said living in the community with no water was like living in the past.
“It’s like living in a community with a well, but it’s 2017,” he said.
He said the worst part was not knowing what the plans were to address the issue.
“They’ve built the treatment plant so you have to wonder what’s happening [to hold it up],” he said.
“It’s been promised to us but we don’t know when it will happen.”
He said he hoped something might happen for the community next year.
Dorset Mayor Greg Howard welcomed the news the government would take over TasWater from next year.
He said the cost of building treatment plants and pipe infrastructure to the communities would have been hard for the council to bear.
The improved water quality standards had meant more towns had to be put on alerts lists than ever before but welcomed the news that action would be taken more quickly with the government takeover.