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Water Resources

Water Storage Levels in Tasmania

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The South-East Irrigation District is located within the Coal River Valley just east of Hobart. The area has a very favourable climate for the production of cool temperate crops, is close to population centres for sourcing labour and is adjacent to air, sea, road and rail transport infrastructure. Another important advantage is that the district is centred around the historic tourist town of Richmond.

The Craigbourne Dam was constructed in 1985-86 to provide water to the Valley. Originally built to hold 12,500 ML of water, the Dam was designed to release 5,400 ML per annum which, at 65% efficiency, would make available 3,500 ML of water to be pumped onto farms in the district. Stage 2 of the Scheme was completed 1991. This extended the Scheme by pumping water from Richmond to Cambridge through underground pipes. The Scheme was supplemented in 2000-01 following the construction of the “Daisy Banks” Dam which enabled water provided by Hobart Water to be linked into Stage 2 under gravity.

Initial take-up of water was relatively slow. In 1992, the Coal River Products Association (CRPA) commissioned Davey & Maynard to investigate the opportunities available to farmers in the South-East Irrigation district. The nine volume Blundstone Study report highlighted the climatic advantages and market opportunities of the area and recommended a switch away from the more traditional dryland enterprises to more intensive horticultural enterprises, such as stone fruits, wine grapes, fresh vegetables, selected seed crops and others. Since then, the district has experienced a rapid development of these and other crops, all of which heavily rely on water from the Dam. Demand for water has increased over the past 10 years and at the same time, the district has developed a reputation for quality, seasonality and reliability.

The 2008-09 State budget allocated $80 million towards a Water Infrastructure Fund (WIF) for Tasmania. This was boosted to a total of $220 million following the provision of Commonwealth funds. The WIF is targeted towards new irrigation works to assist agricultural industries in Tasmanian achieve its 10-year growth forecasts to the year 2015.