Premier Peter Gutwein says the Liberal Party has decided to dredge areas of the upper kanamaluka/Tamar "regardless" of what an upcoming scientific report says on the practice.
The government has preempted the Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce which was carrying out a "scientifically robust, evidence-based evaluation" of sedimentation management options, including costs.
The report is overdue, and was planned to be released in the first quarter of 2021.
Mr Gutwein said he was "expecting" the report to be released before the election, but the Liberal Party had acted first.
"We've made a decision that regardless of what that report says, we need to get on and ensure that people that live in the North can continue to use the river," he said.
"A lot of people have been talking about a lot of solutions in terms of the river.
"We've made a decision, as a Liberal Party, that we are going to get on with this and ensure that people have access to the river."
The government announced $4 million to restart "targeted" dredging in the upper estuary, along with $1 million annually to continue to practice in order to improve river access for rowing clubs, yacht club, marina and other users.
In a 2019 sediment raking report for the City of Launceston, the practice of dredging was described as "no longer economically viable" due to the substantial cost involved in disposing of the "contaminated waste", which included benthic sediments and acid sulfate soils.
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The dredged material was taken to silt ponds where it would remain for several years to filter sediment from the water, before the sediment was disposed of.
Mr Gutwein said "some initial works" would be done to the siltation ponds to make them suitable, but a solution beyond that would be determined through discussions with council and the EPA.
"We will initially use the silt ponds that have been established and have been utilised in the past for the drying out of the material," he said.
"We'll work with local government and the EPA especially to ensure that we have an appropriate site for the dredge material, and importantly a use for the dredge material."
The policy also includes determining a new "government model" for the management of the Tamar within 100 days of the election.
Dredging to have 'immediate benefits': acting mayor
Acting mayor Danny Gibson welcomed the government's commitment to recommence dredging as having "immediate benefits", but said longer term solutions would still need to found.
"The Flood Authority and the City of Launceston will have its view, we look forward to considering all matters that have been spoken about at today's announcement as a council into the future," he said.
"What the City of Launceston aims to do is to work collaboratively with the other jurisdictions, the other players, to ensure that long-term benefits as well as immediate use of the river is a priority for all."
Dredging would still require the approval of the EPA.
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Cr Gibson said the council did not have a preferred option for managing sedimentation at this stage. He said the TEMT report would still be important in assessing future options.
"We've been working very hard as part of the taskforce, as have all the players, and whilst this announcement is welcomed, we look forward to seeing how - as part of the overarching solution that is being worked upon - this can work in conjunction with that," he said.
Greens propose overarching authority for estuary
The Tasmanian Greens have proposed a kanamaluka/River Tamar Management Authority with a scientific advisory panel to guide future decision-making.
It would use a Job Guarantee program for young people to carry out works on river health.
Greens Bass candidate Jack Davenport said dredging was a "stop-gap" approach that would do little to benefit the estuary long-term.
"Peter Gutwein has been a member of the house for Bass for a long time, and the best he could come up with was more dredging. People have heard this before, it has been an ongoing story, and it's this kind of tired, stale, short-termism that has characterised the Liberal Government," he said.
"It is not good enough. We need to look beyond dredging."
Mr Davenport said the TEMT report must be released "as soon as possible".
"I don't see a reason why it shouldn't be released. I think people want to know what solutions are coming forward to resolve these issues," he said.
Labor leader Rebecca White said the government had only proposed to reinstate funding that it had withdrawn when dredging finished.
She said once it re-started, it would need to continue to be funded.
"Their commitment needs to be sustained long-term, because once you start something like this, you need to keep doing it every single year otherwise the problem just returns," Ms White said.
"And that's the nature of the Tamar River and the way the estuary operates."