Water Week

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Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission must supply unknown quantity of water to unknown number of irrigators along Ouse and Lake rivers

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

Riparian land-holders on the Lake River below Woods Lake and the Ouse River below Waddamana had a statutory right to take water for irrigation under the Electricity Supply Industry Restructuring (Savings and Transitional Provisions) Act 1995 and therefore did not require a water licence under the Water Management Act 1999, said Doug Parkinson, Leader of the Government in the Council, in the Tasmanian Legislative Council on 30 August 2007.

Fifty year old agreement still honoured: “When the Poatina power development was approved in 1957,” Parkinson said, “one of the mitigating actions negotiated for diverting the water in Great Lake to the north was a statutory obligation on the Hydro-Electric Commission to make water available to riparian irrigators along the Ouse and Lake rivers. These obligations were carried over at corporatisation of the Hydro-Electric Commission.”

Legislation cited: According to Parkinson the current statutory requirement was the Electricity Supply Industry Restructuring (Savings and Transitional Provisions) Act 1995 Division 2, the Lake River and River Ouse, Section 16(1), which laid down that owners of land within boundaries specified in the section had to be provided with “water reasonably required for the irrigation of that land from the beds of the Lake River and the River Ouse and the channels of the Lawrenny Irrigation Works that have continued in existence since 1 November 1957 or earlier”.

Boundaries defined: The land defined in the legislation was:

• the area of land in the Parish of Lawrenny, County of Cumberland, bounded … on the south-west by the River Derwent from its confluence with the River Ouse to its confluence with the River Clyde thence on the east by the River Clyde in a general northerly direction to the Lyell Highway thence on the north-east in a general north-westerly direction by that highway to the River Ouse and thence on the west by the River Ouse in a general southerly direction to the point of commencement; and

• the riparian tenements situated on the Lake River and the River Ouse below Waddamana.

Number and capacity of pumps only limit: “Under the terms of the original Loan (Hydro-Electric Commission) Act 1957, Hydro Tasmania is required to maintain Lake and Ouse river flows for reasonable irrigation,” Parkinson said. “In practical terms, irrigators who are covered by the act were only limited by their ability to remove water from the river – that is, the number and capacity of their pumps. As water licences are not required it is not known exactly how many irrigators are extracting water from the Lake and Ouse rivers and in what quantities. In addition, not all landowners on the Lake and Ouse rivers extract a similar volume of water for irrigation purposes each year due to variations in farming practices.”

Reference: Doug Parkinson, Leader of the Government in the Council, Member for Wellington, Legislative Council, Parliament of Tasmania, Tasmania, 30 August 2007.

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