Tasmania’s rivers are in trouble. To quote water scientist Christine Coughanowr’s latest work on behalf of the Tasmanian Independent Science Council (TISC):
"Tasmania’s freshwater resources can no longer be considered to be clean, green and abundant. DPIPWE’s* recent River Health Monitoring Program (RHMP) reviews (2018, 2020) recorded up to 43% of sites as impaired, with nearly 70% of these showing a decline during the final five years of the program. This poor outcome may well be an optimistic view, as the methods used and the sites monitored do not necessarily reflect worst case conditions. River flows have declined in many rivers across the state, and accurate climate change impacts are difficult to predict other than increasing levels of variability both temporally and spatially. In short, we may already be at or beyond a tipping point, with serious concerns about the consequences of the next dry summer."
*DPIPWE, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, was renamed Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas) in 2021.
Tasmania’s rivers are further challenged by over-exploitation, lack of care and contemporaneous science. The performance of the EPA or rather the lack of it is reflective of the current attitude by conservative politics to environmental issues.
The 2022 Rural Water Initiative identified many problems with current rural water management and received a significant number of excellent submissions. This was an opportunity for the Tasmanian government to create a meaningful strategic approach to ensure the health of our river systems, and yet instead we see plans for massive expansion in irrigation use and renewable energy projects.
Our river are the lifeblood of our community and we are currently failing them. Now is the time to take action to ensure a healthy future for our rivers, for the wildlife, for the Tasmanian community and for a thriving economy.