Published: 16 October 2020

Legislative Council Thursday 15 October, 2020


With regard to the reservoir at Waratah that has previously been used by TasWater, I understand from LIST PID information regarding the Waratah Reservoir and associated infrastructure that all elements and infrastructure related to this reservoir are located on Crown Land and thus not owned by TasWater:

1. Can the Leader confirm that this is the case;
2. If the land is entirely owned by the Crown please advise under what authority/permission Taswater has;

a. been permitted to make modifications to this asset and associated infrastructure; and
b. implement plans to have the reservoir decommissioned;
3. Does the Minister have any concerns regarding the proposed decommissioning of this reservoir, including;
a. Access to water for future fire fighting;
b. Conservation values of the water body;
c. Recreation use;
4. What actions is the Government willing to take to protect the values of this asset on Crown land, listed in question 3?


Q1 The establishment of the three regional water and sewerage corporations in 2008 included the transfer of urban water and sewerage assets to the three regional corporations, and subsequently to TasWater.

At the time of the original transfers, the Waratah Reservoir was considered to be part of the water supply system for Waratah, and was transferred accordingly. I am advised that, while the dam wall and associated infrastructure was transferred, the land on which the reservoir is located did not transfer, and remains Crown Land.

Q2 The Water Management Act 1999 requires that dam works are not undertaken unless they occur in accordance with an appropriate dam works permit. Dam works include the construction and modification of dams, as well as the decommissioning of dams.

• The Act specifically provides that a person can undertake dam works on land owned by another person, as long as the owner of the land has given permission in writing.
• TasWater has consulted with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment in relation to works it has undertaken on the Waratah Reservoir, and has undertaken works under appropriate permits.
• To date the Department has not received a dam works application from TasWater for the decommissioning of the dam.
• The Department met with Friends of Waratah to explain the dam works application process. The general public has the right to submit representations to the Department on dam works applications, having two weeks to do so.

Q3 I am advised the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) water supply for firefighting within the township of Waratah is accessed (via firefighting hydrants) from the mains water supply.

• Both the Waratah Reservoir and the Bischoff Reservoir are in the Waratah catchment area. Provided there is capacity for one of these reservoirs to supply water for the mains water supply, there is no issue with the firefighting capability for the TFS.
• The TFS and TasWater are involved in a working group with the objective to discuss, resolve and share information regarding access to water sources at a state-wide level.
• Waratah Reservoir was discussed at this working group, and the North West Regional Chief and District Officers engaged the Bushfire Risk Unit to complete an assessment of the water sources in the area.
• As a result of that assessment, it was determined that there is an abundant supply of water sources in the area and that the loss of the Waratah Reservoir would have no impact on TFS aerial firefighting capability.
• A dam works application must be submitted by the dam owner to decommission and / or undertake risk mitigation works.
• TasWater has indicated that it will submit an application to decommission the dam. When the application is submitted it must address environmental, cultural heritage and dam safety issues.
• While I am advised the Waratah Reservoir is not required to supply potable water to the Waratah township, I am very aware it is considered to be a community asset by many in the Waratah area.
• The remit of TasWater is to operate infrastructure for the supply of urban water not for recreational activities.
• The Department will continue working closely with TasWater in meeting its dam safety obligations.

Q4 Any issues, including cultural and environmental, that are identified during the dam works application process for the decommissioning of the dam will require appropriate mitigation strategies be put in place by the proponent.


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