Tamar silt-raking exceeds expectations

THE Tamar estuary's mud flats and shoals have been reduced to below low tide levels, Launceston Flood Authority chairman Alan Birchmore said.

Mr Birchmore estimated that 200,000 cubic metres of sediment could have been removed from this year's raking program, which finished Sunday - double the amount that the authority expected to shift. 

He said an original 2-kilometre rowing course had been mostly reinstated and the estuary now had an appeal normally only witnessed during high tide.

The flood authority this year contracted out five months' sediment-raking in 10-day bouts during king tides.

He said fine particles carried by the North and South Esk rivers and mixed with the Tamar's saltwater would continue to cause at least 30,000 cubic metres of sediment a year but could be effectively managed by the authority's sediment removal program, budgeted at $300,000 annually.

Mr Birchmore said that the raking had resulted in full advantage being taken from winter floods, compared with the bigger floods of 2011 which left the banks largely untouched.

Hover your mouse over the image to see how these Tamar River silt levels have changed.

Mr Birchmore said state government and opposition commitments to the Tamar meant that the raking program would continue next year regardless of next year's state election results.

He said the authority with TasWater, NRM North and the Launceston City Council had recently decided on a collaborative approach to river management and to work out ``shortcuts to improvement''.

``The moments of opportunity is now that we are on the front foot with a clean win over the mud flats and funds are on offer to develop solutions for the rivers, outside normal plans and budgets,'' Mr Birchmore said.

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