Extreme weather plans could pay dividends

Tasmania has copped the extremes this year when it comes to weather. 

A long dry period early in the year had the state wondering if its hydro electricity system would grind to a halt. From May, Tasmania has received its fair share of a record wet period for the country. 

Floods arrived in June, claiming lives and damaging homes and businesses.

The expense from both the wet and the dry has been significant. 

The state government said it would provide $8.7 million for the replacement of high priority, critical road and bridge infrastructure damaged by flooding.

During the drought period before the El Nino broke down, it brought in costly generators to supplement Tasmania’s hydro power.

The downpour has complicated life for farmers in recent months while the fires earlier this year similarly brought major challenges for producers.

The fingerprints of the wild weather can be found in many unexpected places.

Last week Tasmania received the alarming news that a 35-metre sinkhole threatened to open up at the Beaconsfield mine yard and destroy the iconic skyshaft, after a ground subsidence caused by the big wet.

It’s believed $1.2 million is needed to address the problem with the best option: A concrete plug to prevent any further movement.

This unexpected cost is likely to be carried at least in part by the federal government. It’s another surprise expense brought on by the year’s tumultuous weather.

Looking back, future historians will see this year as a particularly trying one for the state. Hopefully it becomes the exception and not the norm. 

Tasmania has seen its normal order of weather and climate upturned, bringing chaos at times to its way of life.

However it’s a credit to the state the way its communities united in response to flooding earlier this year.

How governments decide to deal with other problems, such as the Beaconsfield subsidence, remains to be seen. 

Given the unpredictable nature of this year’s events, it may pay for governments and councils throughout the state to consider all the infrastructure that could be vulnerable to extreme weather events. 

That way, it can plan responses to potential problems better, and head off any disasters with some preventative action. 

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