Call for Tamar alerts

SPEAKING OUT: Environmental law expert Simon Perraton said a warning system for recreational users of the Tamar River is needed. Picture: Neil Richardson.

SPEAKING OUT: Environmental law expert Simon Perraton said a warning system for recreational users of the Tamar River is needed. Picture: Neil Richardson.

A warning system is needed to alert recreational users of the Tamar River when sewage has been discharged into the water, researcher and environmental law expert Simon Perraton says.

People taking boats on the river could potentially be exposed to pathogens carried in the sewage, he said.

“We basically have a situation where there’s very little management of the risk of people entering that water,” he said.

NRM North should be funded to develop modelling allowing prediction for days of high bacterial pollution, Dr Perraton said. 

While health alerts are not an NRM North responsibility, it has monitored the Tamar River’s water quality on a two-year on, two-year off basis. 

As of December it will begin to test the water monthly, every year. 

NRM North is working on a program which aims to provide enhanced notification to recreational river users.

However more research and testing is needed to develop a local model providing the basis for warnings.

NRM North’s Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers Program coordinator Michael Attard said while it would like to do more testing, it needed more funding.

Dr Perraton said the state government and Launceston City Council needed to take responsibility for developing an alert system.

Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said the city’s council believed it must be part of any solution to river health issues.

“While the management of Tasmania's riverine areas is the legal responsibility of the state government, the City of Launceston believes it has an important role to play. 

“The council remains ready, as it has repeatedly indicated, to work with the state government and other agencies to develop successful outcomes for our river environment.

“The council will be guided by recommendations from NRM North on if and how this [enhanced notification program] should occur and what role the council should play.”

Environmental Protection Authority director Wes Ford said that the government was working in partnership with the council, NRM North and TasWater to monitor water quality in the Tamar Estuary through the provision of funding, in-kind support for laboratory services and representation on strategic programs including the Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers Program.

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