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20 November 2008 2008
Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett has acted to protect a Ramsar site and endangered fish by refusing a request to release more water from Lake Crescent in Tasmania.
Using his powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), Mr Garrett has ruled the application by the Tasmanian Government to release up to five megalitres of water per day from Lake Crescent as clearly unacceptable.
“In making my decision I have taken into account the Interlaken Lakeside Reserve Ramsar site and the endangered golden galaxias - a fish which only occurs in Lake Crescent and the connected Lake Sorell,” Mr Garrett said.
“Following an extended period of dry conditions, these lakes are already in a critical condition. I believe that a further release of water from the Lake would exacerbate the risk of serious long-term impact on these matters of national environmental significance and I am not prepared to run that risk.
“I am aware of the hardship being suffered by farmers in the Clyde Valley region who, like many Australians working on the land, have been affected by the ongoing drought. However, water levels within both Lake Crescent and the adjoining Lake Sorell are already below the critical levels defined in Tasmania’s water management plan.
“In the absence of substantial and sustained rainfall, these water levels are expected to drop further due to evaporation, with potentially severe impacts on the ecosystems within these lakes. Accordingly, the immediate outlook for the golden galaxias population in Lake Crescent is bleak.
“I am also aware that the Tasmanian Government has recently brought on line an alternative water supply for communities in the Clyde Valley for stock and human use, as well as for some irrigation. This alternative water has been provided by pumping water from the Shannon River to the Clyde Valley,” he said.
Mr Garrett said the Australian Government was committed to working with the state to ensure the critical water needs of rural Tasmania are met while at the same time protecting matters of national environmental significance.