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Letter to the editor: Lachlan River flood mitigation

I READ with interest the New Norfolk and Derwent Valley News article regarding the project for flood mitigation on the Lachlan River. I’m very pleased that the Derwent Catchment Project people will be undertaking this work on behalf of council, because I’ve already experienced their professional approach when they very efficiently removed bull rushes from my dam.

My property is on higher ground so I’ve been lucky not to experience the awful flooding that some other Lachlan residents have experienced. But like all Lachlan residents I still have to drive on the Lachlan Rd. I’ve lived here for 22 years and can still remember the torrential rain which fell in May 2018 and the damage done to properties along the Lachlan River. And let’s not forget that this river runs all the way from the upper reaches of the Lachlan Valley to the River Derwent.

I’m aware that unlike other states such as Victoria, Tasmania unbelievably has NO River and Catchment Authority to assume ownership and responsibility for our various natural waterways. This means that any flood mitigation work done by the Derwent Catchment Project could be undone by any land owner who either inadvertently or intentionally does work to alter the natural flow of the river.

My late wife Pat and I saw this happen when we were living in the Huon Valley and a large land owner dammed a small stream which fed another river which eventually went into the Huon River. Some land owners seem to consider that any water course running over their land is their property to do with as they wish – and in Tasmania they can get away with it.

People need to understand that our rivers and streams don’t just appear overnight. They’ve evolved over thousands if not millions of years and the course they follow is dictated by where the underlying bedrock offers least resistance. So anything which is done to alter that course, even if unintentional, can have devastating consequences for everyone not just in Lachlan but downstream.

The population of Lachlan has grown significantly since I moved here in January 2000. I strongly urge all residents to write to State Minister for Primary Industry and Water Jo Palmer demanding that relevant legislation be introduced to set up a River and Catchment Authority to assume jurisdiction over our waterways as a matter of urgency.

We are experiencing more extreme weather events as a result of climate change and these will be challenging enough without additional hardship caused by lack of action by our elected politicians.

MARK BENNETT,
LACHLAN

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