The Tasmanian Walking Company has blamed access restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for problems with greywater management systems at their huts on the Overland Track.
A June audit of the huts carried out by the Parks and Wildlife Service identified priority actions which needed to be undertaken before the start of the summer hiking season.
Greywater systems manage water waste from showers and dish washing.
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A PWS spokesperson said they had communicated the problems to TWC, but were waiting on a response from the company.
“The PWS audited the Overland Track hut wastewater systems in June and priority actions were identified and communicated to the operator,” the spokesperson said.
A TWC spokesperson said the priority actions identified were in relation to cleaning and repair matters which were usually conducted at the end of the season.
The Overland track is closed between May and October due to the weather conditions at that time of year.
In March Environment Minister Roger Jaensch closed all National Parks as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The TWC spokesperson said due to that closure the proper maintenance tasks were not able to be carried out at the correct time.
“The most recent operational review noted a number of findings related to cleaning and repair tasks which otherwise would have been completed at the end of season, were the parks not closed, or are routinely undertaken as part of pre-season works,” the spokesperson said.
“We are undertaking these tasks as a standard before opening for the walking season in October.”
Wesley Moule was working as a food dropper on the Overland Track in March.
He said the smell coming from the greywater systems at the huts almost made him throw up.
“When we got there … because it had been quite a hot day and [the sand boxes] are in the sun the smell … inside the sand boxes had me on the verge of dry retching,” Mr Moule said.
Mr Moule first raised concerns about the systems on social media in April.
In a video posted to his Facebook page he examines the system at TWC’s Waterfall Valley Hut.
He described the system as disgraceful and accused the company of polluting the World Heritage area.
However, the TWC spokesperson said they operated to the highest environmental standards.
They said TWC had commenced planning to upgrade their huts on the Overland track.
“In the last 12 months we have commenced planning for the refurbishment of our Overland Huts, which subject to approvals will take place over a five year period,” the spokesperson said.
“The first stage of this will be the implementation of the latest environmentally sustainable technologies and water management operations commencing in September 2020 despite current systems being well within their life span.”
The spokesperson said the new system would use groundbreaking initiatives recommended by their specialist geotechnical consultant.
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