Launceston's section of the kanamaluka/Tamar Estuary has not improved its ecosystem health in 14 years, the latest scientific report card has revealed.
The Tamar and Esk Rivers program released its findings in the 2022 Tamar Estuary report card on Tuesday, that examines ecosystem health and water quality over five zones of the 70-kilometre estuary.
The findings showed the Launceston to Legana Zone, also known as Zone 1, was still rated as a D for poor ecosystem health. Zone 1 has remained at a score of D for the entire monitoring period, except for one year, in 2018 when it scored an F.
In previous years, the Tamar Estuary has attracted a total funding package of $140 million from all levels of government under the Launceston City Deal.
However, it's unknown when these upgrades and improvements will begin to bear fruit.
When asked about whether they would improve the health of the estuary, State Development Minister Guy Barnett said improvements to the combined stormwater and sewerage system would see "a 66 per cent reduction in combined system overflow and a 36 per cent reduction in bacterial pathogen concentrations."
It comes on the same day the state government announced it had appointed Legislative Councillor Nick Duigan to the appointment of parliamentary secretary for the Tamar.
The TEER program is a partnership between 16 community and government agencies backed by scientific evidence and helps to provide important data collection for decision making.
TEER program manager Darren McPhee said he could not stress enough the importance of the data collection and measurement provided in the report.
"Ecosystem health measures the well-being, natural condition, and function of the system, including plant and animal communities," he said.
"The water quality data used in the report card allows the TEER program to better understand the condition of the estuary and the impact of natural and human pressures."
He said Zone 1 had was under sustained pressure due to a steady influx of fertiliser and other agricultural products, along with the
Other findings from the report, show minor declines in Zones 2, 4 and 5, which includes West Tamar and out to the marine zones around Low Head and Beaconsfield.
Mr McPhee said it was important to note the monitoring period coincided with high rainfall throughout the catchment area, which impacts on water quality.
There is also continued high levels of nutrients in the upper and mid estuary. Water quality in the lower estuary continues to have excellent ecosystem health.
Mr Barnett said the River Health Action Plan had committed $140.7 million for the estuary.
"There are two major projects under this plan. $11.5 million was allocated to catchment management actions, which excludes stock from entering waterways, reduces effluent from dairy farming, regenerates riparian vegetation and remediates sewage intrusions. This project is significantly progressed with sewage intrusions complete and over 336km of fencing delivered and 1,489 hectares of vegetation managed," he said.
"The $129.2 million combined stormwater and sewerage system upgrades commenced in October 2021, with major project works in the design and geotechnical investigation stage. It is expected that Taswater will tender the works for construction later in 2022."
A common frustration for Launceston residents is the build-up of sediment, that has caused issues for amenity and recreational use.
A draft 10-year vision for the estuary was presented by TEMT last year and is being considered. Mr Barnett said a recent commitment from the federal government for wetlands in the North Esk needed to be factored into the draft vision before its finalised.
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