Boyer’s efforts boost river health

A REPORT looking at the health of the Derwent estuary has found the completion of several wastewater treatment projects has led to further water quality improvements. Releasing the annual Derwent Estuary Report Card today, Derwent Estuary Program  director Christine Coughanowr said several projects had significantly reduced the amount of pollution entering the Derwent.

“These include the commissioning of a more advanced wastewater treatment plant at the Boyer paper mill,” Ms Coughanowr said. “Since 2007, the cumulative loads of most discharges entering the Derwent have declined – in particular a marked decline in organic loads from Norske Skog paper mill. In the last year organic loads from the Norske Skog paper mill fell by more than 80% following the upgrade of the treatment plant.”

Improved sewage treatment at Clarence, Hobart and Glenorchy was also a factor in the improved health of the River Derwent, along with a new groundwater recovery system at the zinc works.

Despite this good news, a recent study has found that mercury levels in some Derwent-caught fish are above recommended health guidelines. “Results from a pilot survey of fish caught in the estuary found mercury levels in bream, and estuary trout, are in excess of recommended food safety standards,” Ms Coughanowr said.  “Further studies are under way to confirm the pilot study findings, extend the survey to other areas of the Derwent estuary and investigate how mercury is being passed up the food chain.”

The Derwent Estuary Program is a partnership between the State Government, councils, commercial and industrial enterprises, scientists and community-based groups to restore and promote the Derwent estuary.
For a full copy of the report card, go to www.derwentestuary.org.au

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