Dam row cools

NEGOTIATIONS between Hydro Tasmania and Derwent Valley farmers over timing and compensation surrounding the lowering of Meadowbank Lake have continued this week, with Hydro increasing their previous offer of compensation, as well as delaying the projected works by a year.

Hydro had planned to lower the level of Meadowbank Lake by two metres over a 10-week period in February 2022 while maintenance work on the Meadowbank Dam crest gates is performed, followed by a two-week period where the dam in dropped a further four metres to test the gates, before being repeated a second time in February 2023.

Farmers who irrigate from the Meadowbank Lake water supply had met with Hydro several times across the last year to discuss negotiating appropriate compensation.

Meetings were also held between irrigators and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment over the year, who had agreed to mediate the negotiations between the two parties, though they have distanced themselves from resolving the dispute, stating it is “a Hydro matter”.

In the latest development, Hydro has raised their offer to compensate 50 per cent of the expense’s irrigators would have incurred to make the necessary modifications to their pumping equipment, and to delay the start of construction until February 2023.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association CEO John McKew said the offer was far closer to the expectations of the irrigators in the region, though the offer was yet to be accepted.

“I can’t speak on behalf of the irrigators in the region, but the offer from Hydro is certainly heading in the right direction,” Mr McKew said.

“Delaying the start of the construction was always going to have to happen, it’s far too late to start now.”

Hydro Tasmania was contacted for a response.