Published: 28 October 2020

Legislative Council Tuesday 27 October, 2020


With regard to the answers to my questions without notice of the week of 14 October regarding the Waratah Reservoir -

(1) Please provide -

(a) evidence that permits were granted for TasWater to commence works in 2017 pursuant to the Water Management Act 1989;

(b) details of who issued the permits;

(c) why was the public not advised of these works prior to commencement; and

(d) why was the public not given the opportunity to respond within two weeks as provided for under the act?

(2) TasWater commissioned Nick Haygarth to provide a report on the historical and/or cultural significance of the Waratah Reservoir -

(a) why is this not publicly available; and

(b) will TasWater release the report to the community?

(3) Has the Government had direct dialogue with the Waratah volunteer fire service regarding the availability of water within that community and the ability to withdraw water from the Bischoff and Waratah reservoirs and the town hydrants in the case of fire?

(a) If so, when did that occur?

(b) If not, why not?

(4) Given the Government's desire for a 'carbon neutral state', is the Government aware that the proposal by the proponent under EOI by TasWater (Shaw Contracting) would result in Waratah becoming a 'carbon neutral town' and a shining example of the tourism industry in the state through the installation of a mini-hydro scheme?

(5) As decommissioning of the reservoir could lead to future costs associated with community safety, fire and flood protection as well as surety of domestic water supply -

(a) has the lost opportunity cost been assessed; and

(b) if so what is the cost.

(6) What opportunities will be lost if the Waratah Reservoir is removed?


Mr President, I thank the member for Murchison for her questions.

(1) This question is yet to be answered by the minister, Mr Barnett.

(2) TasWater undertook considerable work to better understand a range of important issues relating to its Waratah Dam and engaged consultants Entura to investigate the natural and heritage values of the dam and its surrounds, the dam's hydrology and the cost of building a new dam that complies with modern standards. These reports were finalised in late 2018 and shared with the community in early 2019; they have been publicly available on the TasWater website since early 2019.

(3) TasWater has had discussions with the Tasmania Fire Service in full about the options available should the dam be decommissioned. The TFS has advised that a range of options is available to supply water to the town for firefighting services and Waratah Reservoir is not required for this purpose.

The Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management recently revisited the question of the need for the reservoir for firefighting at the request of some community members. The response he received from the TFS was shared with the community. Advice to us from TFS is unchanged to what has previously been provided. The advice is there is an abundant supply of water resources in the area and the loss of the Waratah Reservoir would not impact on the TFS aerial firefighting capability. It notes that the Waratah Reservoir is accessible only by aerial appliance as a tanker would not be able to access the water source.

(4) TasWater worked closely with the proponent over an extended time; however, despite the best efforts of all parties, a viable outcome could not be achieved. Waratah-Wynyard Council also had discussions with the proponent and was unable to reach a satisfactory outcome.

(5) The Waratah Dam at its full capacity represents a considerable safety risk that exceeds tolerable dam safety limits. TasWater must take action to manage the risk. TasWater has had discussions with TFS about options available should the dam be decommissioned. The TFS has advised that a range of additional options is available to supply water to the town. Detailed flood modelling has been undertaken, while water levels would vary across the town in the event of a flood. The removal of the dam is likely to only see a slight increase in flood levels in Waratah, with no impact to homes.

Modelling is available on the TasWater website. Even during low flows, the Waratah River still provides approximately 10 times the amount of water required for the town.

(6) The Tasmanian Liberal Government is contributing $300 000 to the Waratah community to improve and upgrade walking tracks at the Waratah Falls and revitalising the Waratah Rail Bridge as a tourism experience. Both projects are seen as a community priority, identified in the Waratah community plan being processed by the Waratah community board. The site will return to its natural state and the river will commence in its natural flow and feed the key tourism attraction for the town, the beautiful Waratah waterfall.


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