Letter to the Editor

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment

Email: [email protected]e.tas.gov.au

Wendy Dawson, Editor

Valley and East Coast Voice Inc.

St Marys TAS 7215

Dear Ms Dawson

Richardson road dam – St Marys

I refer to our previous emails in regard to the existing status of Crown Land containing the Richardson Road dam.

I also refer to previous emails and telephone conversations between Acting Break O’Day Council Mayor Hannah Rubenach and myself regarding this matter.

I have undertaken some research into the Crown land and the dam and can provide the following information:

The Crown land has a status of unallocated and was accessed in 2006 under the Crown Land Assessment and Classification Project (CLAC). The dam was noted within the report and comments were sought from the Break O’Day Council.

In 2007, Break O’Day Council comments noted that the land contained water supply infrastructure used for emergency purposes only and would consider having the site containing the dam transferred to local government ownership.

Given this statement, it was assumed by this department the area was being maintained by the Break O’Day Council.

I have managed to amass a small amount of history of the dam and recent events:

The dam was, apparently, constructed by council and used for irrigation purposes, construction date unknown.

In 1999, the irrigation scheme was abandoned after  council sourced a new water supply via a bore.

In 2009, the dam was offered to the then Ben Lomond Water but was not accepted as an asset as the water supply was not required.

In January of 2014, Taswater received a complaint about platypus burrowing into the dam walls and sent officers to  inspect the area. According to Taswater, their officers inadvertently assumed the infrastructure was managed by Taswater and decided to open the valve and drain the dam to prevent catastrophic failure. Taswater has since confirmed they believe the structure to be owned by Break O’Day Council.

Regarding questions raised by both Hannah Rubenach and yourself, I can provide the following information:

This department will continue to manage the entire Crown land area but is not in the position to maintain infrastructure. After inspecting the area and noting the water depth, vertical walls, unstable platform, the close proximity to a public road and inadequate fencing, this department will not be refilling the dam in its current state.

It may be possible for the area to be licensed, preferably by council, and the dam refilled; however as the structure has been drained, any rebuilding or repair works would need to be assessed and approved by the Water Management Branch. The concrete dam wall would also require structural assessment.

It may be possible to lower the existing spillway to provide a water source for native wildlife but any works would also need to be approved by the Water Management Branch and the area licensed.

Tasmanian Fire Service has stated that, whilst the area may have been within their books as a possible source of water, they do not rely on any such water sources whilst fighting fires. It should be noted that there is another large dam approximately 900 metres north that could provide a similar source of water.

If you have any queries regarding the above, please contact the officer nominated at the head of this correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Phil Thompson

Regional Property Officer North

CROWN LAND SERVICES

11 April 2014