The Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce (the Taskforce) was established in April 2017 under the Launceston City Deal with the aim of identifying investments to improve the health of the Tamar Estuary. The Taskforce was charged with delivering a River Health Action Plan (RHAP) by the end of 2017.
Influences including the city’s combined sewerage and stormwater system, the inability to flush sediment due to marine tides meeting freshwater rivers, agricultural practices in the catchment, historical industrial practices, outflows from multiple wastewater treatment plants throughout the estuary, river floods, and man-made changes to the flow and channel of the estuary have all been cited as reasons for the Tamar not meeting modern expectations of health and amenity.
The RHAP builds on the work previously undertaken in the development of a Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP) for the Tamar catchment and is an important step in its implementation. The WQIP considered the impact of investment actions on four major pollutants: total nitrogen (TN); total phosphorus (TP); total suspended sediments (TSS); and enterococci. The Taskforce identified improving public health through reduced pathogen concentrations in Zone 1 (Launceston to Legana) of the estuary as the primary goal for investment through the RHAP. As such, the RHAP actions recommended by the WQIP were considered and prioritised given their impact on pathogen concentrations in Zone 1.
Two Taskforce working groups were subsequently established - one considering best value for money actions in the estuary’s catchments to stop the flow of pathogens into the Tamar (the Catchment Action Working Group) and a second looking at possible actions to mitigate untreated overflows from the city’s combined sewerage and stormwater system (the Combined System Overflow Working Group). This program plan focuses on the implementation of diffuse source management options identified by the Catchment Action Working Group.
This project is supported with funding provided by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments through the Launceston City Deal and the Australian Government Tamar Estuary River Health Grant.