Review and Amendment of the Mersey Water Management Plan

​​​​​The current Mersey Water Mana​gement Plan was adopted in 2005.

  Mersey Water Management Plan   (1Mb)

The Plan sets out the framework for managing the water resources in the Mersey Water Management Plan Area, in accordance with the Water Management Act 1999, to ensure that water resources in the Plan area are managed to optimise its benefits for a range of users, including the community, the environment and commercial users.​

NRE Tas​ has commenced a review of the Water Management Plan so that we manage water better and plan for the future.

Review and Amendment Process

The review and amendment of the Plan is being undertaken according to Section 34 of the Water Management Act 1999.

Information on the process to review and amend the Plan is provided in the Water Management Planning Guiding Principles for the Development of Statutory Water Management Plans. 

  Guiding Principles for the development of statutory water management plans in Tasmania   (1Mb)

The Water Management Planning process is rigorous, collaborative, transparent, and based on science and evidence, and goes​ trough several stages.

The first stage of the review of the Plan is conducted in consultation with the key stakeholder representatives through the Mersey Water Management Plan Consultative Group.

The Consultative Group is advisory and provides NRE Tas with a balanced range of views, local knowledge, advice and feedback from key stakeholder groups on matters relating to the review and amendment of the Plan.

The Consultative Group provides preliminary input to support the NRE Tas to draft amendments to the Plan (prior to its release for formal public feedback). Stakeholder input through the plan drafting and feedback stages will support development of a Plan that best meet the needs of local water users and recognise water resource complexities for the area.

​The Consultative Group consists of the following members and stakeholder groups.

​​Member
Organisation
Marie Egerrup
Hydro Tasmania
Rob Freeman Inland Fisheries Service
Brett Perkins
​Mersey Irrigators Group
​​Iona Flett
​​Cradle Coast Authority NRM
​David Skipper
​Tasmanian Irrigation
​Nathan Richardson
​Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association
​Nick Cramp
​Tributary water licence holder
TBA
​Anglers Alliance Tasmania
​David Addison
​Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group
​​John Borojevic​Paddle Tasmania

​There have been several meetings of the Mersey River Water Management Plan Review Consultative Group to support the review and drafting of the Plan. This process is still underway.

Following the preparation of the Draft Plan through the Consultative Group process the draft Plan will be made publicly available by NRE Tasmania for Statutory Public consultation, involving:

  • ​​Release of the draft Plan publicly for 60 days inviting written representations to be submitted, with a public meeting held within the first 30 days.
  • Following the public consultation period NRE Tas must prepare a written report considering and responding to all representations including recommended responses to all matters raised.
  • The Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC) then prepare an independent review report. The report is made publicly available and include the NRE Tas Report, written representations and provides recommendations by the TPC in relation to the NRE Tas report recommendations and any proposed changes to the draft plan.
  • The Minister then makes the final decision to adopt the Plan considering the TPC report, NRE Tas Report and public representations.

Trial of changes to Water Management in the Mersey River catchment (November 2020 to April 2022)

At the third meeting of the Consultative Group in September 2020, Hydro Tasmania outlined a proposal to trial a constant environmental release of 160 ML/day from Lake Parangana for the 2020/21 and 2021/22 irrigation season. This is with the intent of maintaining a normal minimum flow of 173 ML/day past the Hydro Tasmania stream gauging station at Liena when flows fall to low levels.

The key driver for the trial came from Hydro Tasmania undertaking strategic analysis and consideration of a range of operational changes and improvements to releases from Lake Parangana. NRE Tas liaised closely with Hydro Tasmania and the other representatives on the Consultative Group to refine the details of the trial.

Initially the trial was proposed for the period November 2020 to April 2021, however due to higher than average rainfall in the first year, the trial was extended to collect information for the period from September 2021 to April 2022.

Details of the arrangements being trialled are outlined in the following document: 

  Trial of changes to Water Management in the Mersey River catchment from November 2020 to April 2021   (202Kb)

The key elements of the trial and changed water management arrangements are:

  1. A constant environmental release of 160 ML/day from Lake Parangana by Hydro Tasmania
    and measurement of the flow release at the dam outlet (as opposed to the Liena gauge) for a period of 12 months.  

  2. A revised approach to applying the cease-to-take when inflows to Lake Parangana fall below 173 ML/day as measured at the Arm River stream flow gauging station.

  3. A four-stage restriction protocol above the cease-to-take for water licence holders who use water for commercial purposes. The four-stage restriction protocol details how restriction are applied incrementally based on Surety Level (priority of access) when water less that 100% of demand can be met by flows above the cease to take threshold.

The aim of the trial was to consider specific water management arrangements that are simpler to implement and are operationally more effective at supporting improved water management outcomes such as: hydro electricity generation, irrigation development, water access, and better environmental​ and social outcomes during low flow periods. The learnings from the trial will inform water management planning outcomes.​

The 2020/2021 trial targeted collection of water use and flow information to improve understanding of the effectiveness of the new flow management arrangements in the summer period.

The 2021/2022 trial continued to collect water use information; however, a smaller, more targeted group of water users in areas of key interest were asked to collect information for the trial. 

NRE Tas also sort stakeholder feedback as part of its monitoring and evaluation of the trial. The findings from the trial and how it has worked for all parties will feed into the Mersey Water Management Plan review. 

Further information

For further information, please contact a member of the Consultative Group that best represents your interests. 

To be put in touch with a representative on the Consultative Group please contact:

Nerida Bleakley
Phone: 0439 636 256
Email: Nerida.Bleakley@nr​e.tas.gov.au.