Former Gympie council water services leader Stephen Jewell disputes claims poor management was the reason the city’s water treatment plant was left with only one operational pump out of three.
Former Gympie council water services leader Stephen Jewell disputes claims poor management was the reason the city’s water treatment plant was left with only one operational pump out of three.

Ex-council boss hits back at claims of ‘poor management’

THE former head of Gympie Regional Council’s water services has disputed claims “poor management” caused the city to teeter on the edge of a catastrophic loss of its water supply.

Gympie Regional Council revealed last week the town’s water treatment system had been running with only one operational pump for a three-month period this year.

Two other pumps, supposed to be available as back-ups in case of the first pump’s failure, were broken.

It was revealed last week Gympie was at risk of losing its water supply.
It was revealed last week Gympie was at risk of losing its water supply.

One had not been tested for several years and was found to be faulty when it was.

This left Gympie at risk of losing access to its water within 24 hours if the main pump failed; a situation blamed on poor management decisions and a lack of direction.

It was these comments that are disputed by former water business manager Stephen Jewell, who said it was under his management the pumps’ problems were found.

“They are probably the most critical items in the Gympie water inventory,” Mr Jewell said.

Mr Jewell ran the unit from 2018, until his departure in August this year.

“Before pulling up the duty (main) pump, I directed that we ensure that standby and spare pumps were in order,” he said this week.

Mr Jewell, who ran the water branch for two years, said the problems identified with the pumps – and plans to fix them – happened under his watch.
Mr Jewell, who ran the water branch for two years, said the problems identified with the pumps – and plans to fix them – happened under his watch.

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“They weren’t, so action was taken to ensure they were fixed.

“So it was previous management that discovered this issue and took steps to rectify it.

“If the spare pump hadn’t been tested for several years then this was down to the previous, previous management as I was only there for two years.”

Mr Jewell said the mandate had been to get the pumps fixed “ASAP”.

“We said to get it down to Brisbane and get it fixed,” he said.

“Previous management … set up a maintenance management system to capture maintenance that had been done and to prioritise and schedule future maintenance.

“That doesn’t seem like a poor management decision.

Mr Jewell says there was a plan to fix the biggest problems over several years as “it can’t be done in one or two”.
Mr Jewell says there was a plan to fix the biggest problems over several years as “it can’t be done in one or two”.

“The previous management captured all the things that allegedly haven’t been done for years, or were seen as deficient or otherwise wanting, to determine what the priority for each was, then ensure that the work was budgeted for and carried out as resources became available.”

Mr Jewell said a program was installed to fix the biggest problems over a number of years as “it can’t be done in one or two”.

“That doesn’t sound like a poor management decision.”