Fixing the Tamar River is “bigger than politics”, TasWater chief owners representative David Downie says.
While Mr Downie welcomed the $94.6 million fix announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he said it was disappointing that TasWater weren’t directly represented on the taskforce.
“We welcome the federal government’s commitments to improve the health of the Tamar estuary,” he said.
“LGAT and TasWater advocated strongly in the last federal election, but we couldn’t gauge any interest in the state government or the Turnbull government.
“The fact that they have finally seen this as a high priority issue that should be funded, is a good thing.
“There has been a collaboration, but I think it is very disappointing that TasWater weren’t represented at the taskforce level.”
The Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce released its report on Thursday, outlining 12 key catchment and combined system actions it believes will result in the best “value for money” improvements to the estuary.
Catchment actions aimed at minimising the pollutants coming from dairy, grazing and urban areas would be carried out in partnership with key organisations including Dairy Tasmania and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.
Combined system actions including works to address sewage intrusion into Launceston’s stormwater system, would be led by the Launceston city council in partnership with TasWater.
Mr Downie said the most important thing was seeing the plan correctly implemented, regardless of election results.
“The federal government have already put this money on the table,” he said.
“The Labor party have also said that they would help fund the fixing of this asset.
“So whatever the result of the federal or state election, let’s hope this money keeps on flowing into fixing this problem.”
Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Neil Grose described the Tamar as the “heart of Launceston’s future” and said the issues were far wider than the city’s stormwater and sewerage systems.
“It is pleasing to see a whole of catchment approach to solving the Tamar’s problems,” he said.
“The chamber encourages all political parties to embrace the Tamar Estuary River Health Plan and support this commitment. The Tamar River needs the joint financial resources of all three levels of governments to bring this solution into reality.”
A TasWater spokesman said the funding promise for Launceston’s combined system was a “valuable start” to the many factors needed to clean-up the Tamar.
“TasWater hopes this commitment will be guaranteed regardless of the make-up of the next Tasmanian government and if so, looks forward to working cooperatively with whichever party succeeds in forming government,” the spokesman said.
Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten said the plan promised to be the most “tangible and coordinated move” the city had seen.
“There have been many attempts in the past to confront the issues, but this coordinated effort represents a unique opportunity in the history of our city to have all tiers of government and all relevant stakeholders working together to find solutions,” he said.