Tasmanian Irrigation’s Environment Team is responsible for ensuring the Company develops and operates irrigation schemes that are environmentally sustainable, monitors environmental compliance obligations, supports regulatory approval processes and promotes sustainability and environmental awareness within the organisation.
Tasmanian Irrigation implements a range of procedures to ensure all activities undertaken meet environmental statutory requirements and are conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.
The Company reports that in 2020/21, all monitoring programs found no discernible impacts from Tasmanian Irrigation operations, no incidents of environmental harm were recorded and no listed aquatic weeds were detected in Tasmanian Irrigation’s storages.
An algal bloom occurred in the TI managed Craigbourne Dam which resulted in its closure for recreational use. The bloom was closely monitored by TI staff throughout its duration. There was no discernible impact on the Coal River or South East irrigators. The Dam was reopened for recreational use in May 2021.
In accordance with State and Federal approvals, surveys continued across schemes for the presence of native and pest fish, aquatic habitat quality for burrowing crayfish and giant freshwater crayfish, progress of rehabilitation, and to detect any erosion impacts from water releases into receiving waterways. All surveys show minimal impact from Tasmanian Irrigation activities.
The Environment Team has also developed Operational Environmental Management Plans (OEMP) for all operational schemes. Phase one of the project involved auditing all schemes and gauging each Scheme Operators’ understanding of environmental requirements.
The next phase involved the preparation of an overarching OEMP handbook with sections on weed and pest management, chemical handling and storage, water quality monitoring, biosecurity and maintaining water licence data records, and scheme specific coversheets with detailed requirements particular to each scheme.
The third phase involved the formal training of all operators on the requirements of the plans, which is scheduled to be completed prior to the next irrigation season. An annual review of the handbook and scheme-specific coversheets will be undertaken.
Tasmanian Irrigation understands that its environmental obligations extend beyond development of schemes to include their enduring impacts once operating. It is a requirement that water from schemes developed by Tasmanian Irrigation may be applied on farm only in accordance with a completed Farm Water Access Plan (Farm WAP). Farm WAPs contain water, soil and biodiversity modules to ensure that the application of water accords with modern sustainability principles.