A leaky outdoor tap to a householder is a cause for immediate action lest the neighbours spot it and call in the Water Police. But it seems some companies don’t feel the same urgent need to patch up holes in their water infrastructure, even if it’s on very public display.

If that company is a major supplier to the agricultural sector, how would their water-starved customers respond to the waste?

A Crikey reader sent in the following pictures of Orica’s Kooragang Island fertiliser plant in Newcastle:

Crikey contacted Hunter Water about the leaking pipe and received the following reply:

The fault was phoned in on the 17th January this year by a concerned resident. Hunter Water checked it out and discovered that the pipe is on Orica’s land and is their responsibility. We alerted them to the fact and they have told Hunter Water they cannot repair the pipe until it can be fitted into their normal maintenance schedule. Hunter Water was told it will be too inconvenient and expensive to shut down production for that one pipe.

While Hunter Water claim they received the alert only a week ago, Crikey’s tipster claims the pipe has been leaking for four months, over which time he has placed numerous calls to both Orica and Hunter Water on the issue.

Orica confirmed that fixing the problem is on the plant’s maintenance schedule and said the leak was “not significant – more like a trickle”. Neither Orica nor Hunter Water was able to quantify the volume of water that was being lost each day, nor over the time the leak had existed.

If you know of a factory, company or any other industrial misuse of water, drop [email protected] a line.

Peter Fray

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