Department steps back from dam row

THE Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment has refused to be involved in a row between Hydro Tasmania and irrigators who use water from Meadowbank Lake.

Hydro plans to lower the level of Lake Meadowbank by two metres over a 10-week period in February 2022 while maintenance work on the dam crest gates is done, followed by a two-week period where the dam is dropped a further four metres to test the gates.

This process will be repeated in early 2023 on a second gate.

After a meeting at Hamilton last week, farmers called for assistance from DPIPWE to cover anticipated costs of relocating irrigation infrastructure.

However, DPIPWE reinforced their position of distance on negotiations, preferring to continue in their capacity as mediator between Hydro and the producers.

“This is an operational matter for Hydro Tasmania which manages the Meadowbank water resource,” a government spokesperson said.
“The Tasmanian Government has been informed that dam maintenance must be undertaken to ensure ongoing Hydro Tasmania activities and in order to avoid potentially serious safety issues.”

The response also references the previous meetings between the affected irrigators and Minister Guy Barnett in early August and insisted it is taking the matter very seriously, with the Minister supporting further negotiations and arranging DPIPWE water management experts to explore resolution options.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association CEO John McKew said the association, irrigators and affected stakeholders were waiting on a response from Hydro and DPIPWE regarding developments on the offer made during last week’s meeting, and progess needed to be made quickly.

“We had been told to expect a response from Hydro either late last week or early this week, and if we haven’t got anything in the coming days, we will be back on the phones,” he said.

DPIPWE said they were advised that discussions were ongoing.