Hydro Tasmania recently increased the base environmental flow through the Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania. The increased flow will improve the aesthetic conditions in the gorge while leaving open future options for the development of Duck Reach power station.
The increase represents an additional cost to Hydro Tasmania of at least $600,000 per annum in lost electricity generation.
Hydro Tasmania’s business sustainability manager Andrew Scanlon said the decision
followed extensive investigations and consultation with stakeholders over the past two years and will provide the best balance of social, economic and environmental issues.
The decision follows receipt of the necessary threatened species permit from the
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment, enabling the base flow to go from 1.5 cubic metres per second (cumecs) to 2.5 cumecs.
Mr Scanlon said the increase is nearly double the flow released since 2003 and around six times the flow Hydro Tasmania is obliged to release under its water licence.
A flow of 2.5 cumecs will provide additional aquatic habitat area but does reduce the habitat for some threatened plant species, Mr Scanlon said.
“An important component of the review was stakeholder liaison and consultation to identify issues and views that needed to be considered,” he said.
“Hydro Tasmania recognises the Gorge environmental flow is a significant issue for many people and we wanted to ensure these views were included in our review. Of course not everyone will be happy but we believe this decision creates the right balance between social, economic, and environmental considerations.”