** Update ** The Tasmanian Country’s push to highlight the plight of farmers in the Derwent Valley, who were in dispute with Hydro over lowering of water levels at Meadowbank Lake has reaped rewards. **
Hydro has responded and will delay the project by 12 months and will fairly compensate farmers with costs once the project starts.
** Original Story **
FARMERS in the Derwent Valley are still being left high and dry over the lowering of Lake Meadowbank, with the dispute yet to be resolved.
Despite calls for assistance, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment has refused to be involved in a row between Hydro Tasmania and irrigators who use water from Lake Meadowbank.
However, Primary Industries and Water Minister Guy Barnett said in previous meetings between the affected irrigators that he was taking the matter seriously and supported further negotiations for DPIPWE water management experts to explore resolution options.
Hydro plans to lower the level of Lake Meadowbank by two metres over a 10-week period in February 2022 while maintenance work on the dam crest gates is done, followed by a two-week period where the dam is dropped a further four metres to test the gates.
This process will be repeated in early 2023 on a second gate. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association CEO John McKew said the association, irrigators and affected stakeholders were waiting on a response from Hydro and DPIPWE regarding developments on the offer made during last week’s meeting, and progress needed to be made quickly.
“We had been told to expect a response from Hydro either late last week or early this week, and if we haven’t got anything in the coming days, we will be back on the phones,” he said.
After a meeting at Hamilton last week, farmers called for assistance from DPIPWE to cover anticipated costs of relocating irrigation infrastructure.
DPIPWE reinforced its position of distance on negotiations, preferring to continue in their capacity as mediator between Hydro and the producers.
“This is an operational matter for Hydro Tasmania which manages the Meadowbank water resource,” a government spokesperson said.
“The Tasmanian Government has been informed that dam maintenance must be undertaken to ensure ongoing Hydro Tasmania activities and in order to avoid potentially serious safety issues.”
DPIPWE said they were advised that discussions were ongoing.
In last week’s edition Hamilton dairy farmer David Jones said: “They can find a million so people can watch footy yet here they claim that they can’t find the money and just expect farmers to stump up and go away.”