Tasmania Now: TasWater reveals details about sewage spill, and second power link found viable

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Here’s what you need to know today:

‘Hang on a minute, we should send someone out’

Tasmania’s water provider has revealed it took more than seven hours to send a technician to check its Macquarie Point sewage treatment plant after a power failure in August — a fault that resulted in six million litres of untreated sewage and stormwater spilling into Hobart’s River Derwent.

TasWater chief executive Mike Brewster was questioned by the Tasmanian Greens about the incident during government business enterprise scrutiny hearings on Wednesday.

Mr Brewster said TasWater’s operational control centre in Devonport was notified soon after the power went out, but only decided to send someone to check the facility hours later after conducting a complex assessment.

“When they got to the bottom of it they said ‘hang on a minute, we should send someone out’ — so they sent someone out seven or eight hours later and that’s the reality of the situation,” Mr Brewster said.

He said the uninterruptible power supply switched itself off, causing the failure, but it remains unclear how that occurred.

Marinus link found to be commercially viable

An economic assessment of a second undersea power connector between Tasmania and Victoria has found it is technically feasible and commercially viable.

The proposed Marinus Link would operate in addition to the Basslink interconnector, which links Tasmania to the national electricity grid.

The business case study, released overnight by Tasmania’s state-owned energy provider Tas Networks, found the 1500-megawatt Marinus link and supporting transmission would deliver broad economic benefits to both Tasmania and Victoria.

It estimates the project would create more than 2,300 jobs in the construction phase in Tasmania, and over the long-term would add more than $1.4 billion in economic value and create 1,400 jobs in each state.

It was not clear how the project — which could cost up to $3.5 billion — would be funded but analysts have suggested Victoria should contribute given it also stands to benefit.

Kid-gloves treatment for baby handfish

Scientists at the University of Tasmania are hoping the hatching of a clutch of red handfish could help save the world’s rarest fish.

The 50 juveniles were hatched in an aquarium at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic studies this month.

Scientists had collected two egg masses from one of the last handfish sites in Southern Tasmania, where fewer than 100 adults survive.

IMAS researcher Jemina Stuart-Smith said the babies would be released back into the wild when they’re about 12 months old.

“While they’re in captivity, we can protect them from things like predation and other adverse environmental conditions and make sure that things like food availability is not a limiting factor,” she said.

“Little is known about red handfish biology, reproduction and early growth, and these juveniles will also allow critical research that can help us to ensure this is not the last generation of their species,” Dr Stuart-Smith said.

Weather

The forecast for Tasmania is for showers, more frequent about the west, south and central areas. Fresh to strong and gusty westerly winds.

Friday is forecast to have showers about the west, south and central areas, and Bass Strait islands. Afternoon showers are possible elsewhere, although less likely about the east coast. Fresh to locally strong and gusty west to south-westerly winds are expected.

A full and updated list of warnings can be found on the Bureau of Meteorology’s Tasmanian Warnings summary webpage.

As of 6:00am the Pinnacle Road to the summit of Hobart’s kunanyi/Mount Wellington was closed at The Springs.

Check the council website for the updated status of Pinnacle Road.

Forecast * all temperatures in Celsius Maximum Minimum
Burnie 17 8
Cape Bruny 15 8
Devonport 19 10
Hobart 19 9
King Island 16 11
Flinders Island 17 11
Launceston 19 9
Liawenee 12 1
Port Arthur 18 7
Smithton 14 10
Swansea 21 8
Queenstown 14 7

Source: Bureau of Meteorology