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Gold Coast Water Revived But At What Cost

Currently receiving publicity is the Myan calendar which  predicts the end of the word in December 2012. The real translation though is “A time of great change.” Not so much the end but more the beginning of a new era.  For Gold Coast ratepayers who will receive what is possibly their last Allconnex water bill in the next week it is a time of great change. Unless there is a change of government on 24 March the ratepayers of the City of Gold Coast have been duped by misguided media and activists from Disconnex into reviving Gold Coast Water.

Gold Coast Water that may come to life on 1 July is only a water retailer. It will not lead to reductions in the cost of water simply because the Queensland Government controls the price of water that is sold to retailers. As a result the wholesale cost of water is the bulk of a water bill because someone has to pay for the reckless spending by the Beattie-Bligh governments on projects that include the $7 billion water grid that may never be used and the troubled desalination plant at Tugun plus the $500 million for Traveston Dam, which wasn’t built despite costly planning and land resumptions.

Gold Coast City Council is not responsible for the originally highly respected water utility being taken over by the Queensland Government it was simply legislated that way. The spin by Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser into making Gold Coast ratepayers believe the soaring water bills are all the councils’ fault is bizarre at best because they control the price of the wholesale cost. The government spin campaign caused a misguided people-power revolt on the Gold Coast with Allconnex Water workers even having their cars attacked. Allconnex has to collect rates to a prescribed formula set by the State Government.

Gold Coast ratepayers should direct their anger at the Queensland Labor MP’s who voted to destroy Gold Coast Water not at the Gold Coast City Councillors who were forced to vote to disband Gold Coast Water in accordance with law changes enacted by the Queensland Government. The new Gold Coast Water will only be a shadow of its former self but will still have to generate income to fund more than $1 billion in new water and sewerage plants over the next decade. The Queensland Labor Government state has removed all subsidies, so Gold Coast Water revived will be looking for new revenue. It means ratepayers will pick up the tab in raised rates and water charges – or Gold Coast Water will go broke.

Current Gold Coast mayor, Ron Clark has consistently spoken against the Queensland Government takeover of water in South East Queensland. Even the Council of Mayors warned in 2007 that the proposed takeover of water was simply cost-shifting by the state. If the revived Gold Coast Water proceeds we may not have to wait too years before we really understand the negative impact of Labor’s reforms. In the meantime Gold Coast ratepayers will continue to pay and pay and pay. Even the Queensland Governments own water commissioner, Elizabeth Nosworthy, in 2007 released the pricing for water in southeast Queensland said that “by 2012-13, a typical household’s annual cost would increase from $355 to $876, an increase of 147 per cent”. This was all but ignored at the time but she was on the money.

So when Gold Coast voters receive their Allconnex water bills next week remember when you go to the polls on 24 March it was local Labor MP’s Peta-Kaye Croft, Peter Lawler, Christine Smith and Margaret Keech who destroyed Gold Coast Water and drove water prices up 147% in 4 years.

Are Cleaners Able to Legally Undertake Plumbing Work?

Increasingly there is a tendency by commercial building owners and managers to require their cleaning contractors to undertake work tasks that are legally plumbing. Cleaners undertaking plumbing tasks are quite simply breaking a number of laws as are their employers and supervisors.

The most common plumbing tasks that cleaners who are untrained, unskilled and unlicensed appear to be being required to undertake as part of their cleaning duties are:

  • unblocking of drains
  • unblocking of toilets
  • disconnecting and clearing of traps
  • servicing of urinals

The only plumbing related tasks a cleaner or any other person can legally undertake are:

  • cleaning or maintaining ground level grates to traps on sanitary drains
  • replacing caps to ground level inspection openings on sanitary drains
  • maintaining an above or below ground irrigation system for the disposal of effluent from an on-site sewerage facility
  • installing or maintaining an irrigation or lawn watering system downstream from an isolating valve, tap or back-flow prevention device on the supply pipe for the irrigation or lawn watering system
  • replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap
  • changing a shower head
  • replacing, in a water closet (WC) cistern, a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber.

All other work must be undertaken by a licensed plumber and drainer – no ifs, no buts, no exceptions.

Cleaners who are required and frequently forced by their supervisors and employers to undertake plumbing tasks usually at the behest of building owners and managers are all breaking the following laws and regulations:

  • Building Services Authority Act 1991
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011
  • Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code
  • Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002
  • Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003
  • Standard Plumbing and Drainage Regulation 2003

Plumbers and drainers unlike cleaners are trained to undertake tasks such as clearing of drains or working on toilets or urinals. All of these tasks require specialised training, diagnostic skills and an awareness of health and safety issues. Above all plumbers are licensed to undertake the work by the Queensland Government plumbing regulator, the Plumbing Industry Council who are legally required to protect public health and safety through Queensland’s plumbing and drainage licensing system.

Tasks such as unblocking of drains, unblocking of toilets, disconnecting and clearing of traps or servicing of urinals are specifically covered by schedule 2 of Standard Plumbing & Drainage Regulation 2003 as detailed below:

  • work necessary for maintaining, repairing or replacing a fitting or fixture
  • work necessary for maintaining or repairing an apparatus other than a back-flow prevention device or thermostatic mixing valve
  • work necessary for replacing apparatus other than a backflow prevention device, thermostatic mixing valve, tempering valve, water heater, cistern, pump or water meter
  • work necessary for maintaining, repairing or replacing fire hydrants or fire hose reels
  • unblocking a pipe that is sanitary plumbing or sanitary drainage
  • work necessary for maintaining or repairing a solar or heat pump hot water system in a building classified under BCA as a class 1, 2, 3 or 4 building

Work undertaken under schedule 2 does not require lodgement of a form 4 with the local government plumbing & drainage inspectors but all work must be undertaken by a licensed plumber or drainer.

A cleaner despite what they are told cannot undertake any of the above tasks. They and those that instruct them to do the work are breaking the law and all are liable for fines plus leave themselves exposed to common law claims under the due diligence provisions of the new WHS Act 2011.

It is very simple if there is general cleaning of a plumbing fixture then there is no issue but where a component part is replaced or disconnected from the plumbing or drainage system, fixture or fitting for maintenance or servicing it can only be legally undertaken by a licensed plumber.

Drink Water & Avoid Dehydration

Water is not only the essence of life it is the basis of life as water is the foundation of the human body. Like any structure if the foundation is poor then strength and longevity are reduced.

In South East Queensland the next two months of January and February are traditionally the hottest months of the year. With the hot weather comes the concerns of dehydration. Very simply more than 70% of the human body is water, so when the temperatures increase the body cools itself by sweating. If water intake is not adequate then dehydration can become a real danger. This is frequently worse with children if their fluid intake of water is inadequate.

It is all of our personal responsibility to ensure our intake of water is frequent and adequate. It is important to realise that you can become dehydrated long before the symptom’s appear, so prevention is critical and prevention is simply drinking water. Prevention does not include drinking fruit juices or sugary soft drinks.

Dehydration will not only impair your normal daily performance but dramatically increases the risk of heat related illnesses such as cramps, headaches, exhaustion or even heat stroke. Possible signs of dehydration may include:

  • extreme thirst
  • extreme fatigue
  • muscle and joint weakness
  • headache and or dizziness
  • dry or sticky mouth
  • cramping of muscles
  • irritability
  • decreased performance

If you notice yourself or anyone else with the above symptom’s it is important to find a cool place and cool the body with water. The water should be sipped not gulped and the rest should continue until the body returns to normal. By recognising the signs of dehydration and taking measures to prevent it will increase everyone’s overall health.

The carrying of water bottles should be standard before leaving home. There is no need to buy expensive bottles of water at the supermarket or service station when you literally have it on tap at home. Even if you do not like the taste of water from Allconnex it is a comparatively simple job for Whywait Plumbing Services to install a good quality filtration system to remove the chemicals such as chlorine that create the poor taste many people associate with tap water. Once you have good quality filtered drinking water the purchase of reusable personal drinking bottles will ensure the entire family can be active, healthy and always hydrated in our hottest months by simply drinking regularly.

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