Health of river low, says report

THE Tamar River continues to be degraded by urbanisation and development, according to the latest snapshot.

Yesterday, the Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers Program released its third report card into the health of the estuary.

The report card shows improvement in the Tamar's upper reaches between Launceston and Legana, which went from 2011's D+ to a "fair" C-.

The improvement was attributed to higher rainfall, which flushed away bacteria.

But water quality in this section was still poor and hadn't improved since last year.

The report card recommended that river users avoid "primary contact" with the water in the upper reaches.

Lead and aluminium in this section were above guideline levels.

The section's location at the confluence of the South and North Esk rivers meant its poorer grading was not unexpected, program manager Amanda Locatelli said.

A basin collected everything that the two rivers brought with them, from farming run-off to mining related pollutants, she pointed out.

It was also affected by its proximity to a large urban centre that was Launceston and as a receiver of sewage.

Environment Minister Brian Wightman said it was a complex and vulnerable waterway with "still a lot of work to do".

However, the idea you could fix the river was a "misunderstanding" of the issues.

"To think we can solve the problems of the river, or what we perceive to be problems, is a false premise," he said.

The state government's budget predicament meant no money would be available to improve the upper estuary beyond the funding already provided for dredging and raking, he said.

When the government's finances improved, this could be revised.

The program also gave a sneak peek of its new Iphone App, which provides a 3D tour of the Tamar.

This will be official released on Sunday with an exclusive report in the Sunday Examiner.

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