In December 2015, the Tamar Estuary and Esk Rivers Program released the Water Quality Improvement Plan which outlines water quality issues throughout the kanamaluka/Tamar estuary and its catchment and identifies priority actions to address the issues. This plan is a long-term vision for water quality improvement in the catchment and estuary. It was developed over a three-year period with extensive community input and best available science and modelling.
Catchment sources are the main supply of pollutants to the kanamaluka/Tamar estuary. Close to 100 per cent of the total suspended sediment loads can be attributed to catchment sources. For nutrients, approximately 70 per cent of the total nitrogen and approximately 55 per cent of total phosphorus are attributed to catchment sources with the rest from wastewater treatment plants and aquaculture in the estuary.
Approximately 70 per cent of pathogens come from catchment sources, particularly from stock in grazing and dairy farming areas, with most of the remaining pathogens coming from Combined System Overflows (CSO) and Launceston’s stormwater system.
Managing such a complex system to improve water quality requires many people and organisations to be involved. Recommended management actions to reduce pollutant loads cover agricultural practices, forest and stormwater systems, urban expansion in the Greater Launceston area, scope of TasWater improvements, heavy metals, and scientific investigations, modelling and monitoring.
The plan aims to provide direction to everyone within the catchment on the role they can play in improving water quality.
Building on the work of the Water Quality Improvement Plan, it is the goal of the Taskforce to address the long-term health of the estuary by identifying investment priorities and providing advice and management recommendations.
Managing river health requires many people to be involved, as the catchment that feeds the estuary is around 10,000km2 in area encompassing several uses and activities. As can be seen, what happens as far away as Tunbridge, Fingal and Deloraine can impact on the Estuary’s health at Launceston or George Town.
The River Health Action Plan, developed by the Taskforce in December 2017 under the Launceston City Deal, identifies the investment and policy priorities for better governance outcomes and improvements to the health of the estuary.
A total of $140.7 million is being invested by the Australian Government, Tasmanian Government, TasWater and City of Launceston under the Launceston City Deal to implement the key actions in the plan, namely: