Reduce Pollution in the Tamar Estuary

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Project Description

The Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce was established to oversee the development of the River Health Action Plan (RHAP). The RHAP has recommended priority government investments and policy actions to improve the health of the Tamar Estuary through better governance and planning, reducing pollution through accountable investment, and upgrading Launceston's combined sewerage and stormwater system.

Tamar River and Kings Bridge. Image Credit: Rob Burnett
Image credit: Rob Burnett

Progress Statement

Having secured $95 million to complete the 12 projects recommended in the RHAP, the Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce has commenced the delivery of projects.  Catchment actions funded under the Taskforce’s River Health Action Plan are now being delivered, with an initial focus on greater fencing on farms to prevent stock from entering waterways in the upper estuary.

As part of its program of works, the Taskforce has considered future governance arrangements for the Estuary and has produced a position paper which is currently being considered by stakeholders.

At the end of May 2019, TasWater finalised the preparation of a detailed project plan for the combined sewerage and stormwater system actions.  The plan provides details of plausible locations and routes of physical infrastructure. 

As we move into 2019-20, further rounds of funding in the catchment actions stream will continue, while approvals and permits will be obtained to commence the initial projects in the combined system infrastructure stream. 

The Taskforce has also completed modelling of the potential impacts on sediment in the upper estuary of returning more flows to the South Esk.  Communication of this work and consideration of subsequent options regarding sedimentation will be considered by the Taskforce in 2019-20.

Key Milestones Achieved

  • November 2018: Grant Deed between the Tasmanian Government and NRM North for $3.5m over four years signed with NRM North to allow commencement of catchment actions.
  • April 2019: Grant Deed between the Tasmanian Government and TasWater signed to provide $300,000 in funding to complete the combined system infrastructure upgrades project plan.
  • April 2019: Tamar Actions Grant process opened.  Represents first phase of RHAP catchment actions and will provide co-funding to farms to keep stock from streams and improve effluent management in target catchments. 
  • May 2019 Combined system infrastructure upgrades project plan completed by TasWater.

Key Next Steps

In 2019-20 the following will be achieved:

  • Detailed communications plan to be developed for the commencement of combined system projects that will also outline the expected benefits of the collective RHAP actions.
  • A 12 month program delivered by the City of Launceston to remove cross connections from separated sewer systems into stormwater in the Launceston suburbs of Trevallyn and Riverside. 
  • Continuation of Tamar Action Grants process, with further rounds of funding for landholders to be released.
  • TasWater to commence approvals processes and, later in the year, procurement of first combined system projects. 
  • The future governance arrangements will be settled.

Financial Information

Total committed funds from Tasmanian and Australian Governments to address the River Health Action Plan is $95 million. 

An additional $1.5 million was committed by the Australian Government to NRM North ahead of the RHAP commitments. 

An initial $500,000 was provided by the Tasmanian Government to fund the initial work of the Taskforce.

The Tasmanian Government has committed a further $300,000 to TasWater to help deliver a detailed project plan for the combined system actions.

Responsibilities

The Tasmanian Government has established the Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce (TEMT) to coordinate the development of the River Health Action Plan.

The TEMT includes experts and local stakeholders. It reports to the Launceston City Deal Executive Board.