Image for Is this the last Platypus ever to be seen in Waratah Water Reservoir?

It has been some weeks since TasWater lowered the spillway of the Waratah Water Reservoir and decreased the water height to 2.5 m below its full supply level, thereby reducing the volume of stored water to an estimated 10% of full supply volume.

For four years the TasWater Dam Safety Manger, Mr Fraser White, together with TasWater’s Senior Dam Safety Engineer David Krushka apparently ignored 13 risk mitigation measures handed to them by Cradle Mountain Water. During four years of dam management TasWater conducted ‘flawed maintenance’ impacting the dam’s structural integrity and increasing its permeability.

Finally Taswater’s Dam Safety Manager apparently claimed that the reservoir needed draining to its present volume - for reasons of ‘human safety’. He did so – without apparent clearances or impact studies of any kind.

Here it needs noting, that TasWater at no time put in place any form of safety protocols, floodway signage or other public notices advising of impending danger. TasWater even neglected to install devices to keep tally of fluctuations of leakage volumes, one of the most basic precaution to measure dam risk. My conclusion: by not playing out their distasteful charade with more care to detail, TasWater proved their insincerity and incompetence.

TasWater executed its demolition job on a Public Reserve (Crown Land), which belongs to every Australian – not TasWater. This used to be an exquisite part of Tasmanian nature – before TasWater invaded. TasWater vandalised Waratah Water Reservoir without consideration of its heritage or environmental values. There was no concern about social or community values – just a mantra by TasWater’s CEO, Mr. Brewster about the safety of a little girl on a bike swept away by floodwaters.

After four years of knowing about 13 Cradle Mountain Water’s risk mitigation measures and doing nothing to address any of those risks, TasWater’s staff now have the impudence to claim, that they were justified to kill off vibrant ecosystems of exquisite native flora and fauna with neither environmental nor any other clearances because of a sudden, totally unexpected manifestation of critical risk to human life. A different rationale put forward here is that TasWater is now desperately trying to rid itself of a monument of its own creation, a monument to TasWater’s irresponsible and neglectful mismanagement, in my view.

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From the top of the dam you now see tree stumps, branches, and sticks emerge from the receding waters. There is a widening rim of rotting reed. However, the lake continues for another three or so km. Walking around the first bend of the reservoir you can notice that the water level decreases. More broken trees and sticks emerge, and more black mud. This used to be fish and burrowing cray habitat. Platypus, quolls, Tasmanian devils and other marsupials went for their drinking water and about their daily life. Now their access to water has become a death trap of black mud, filled with decaying corpses of native wildlife.

TasWater has publicly announced that it is preparing for total extermination of the Waratah Water Reservoir: lowering the water level by another 1 metre.

Is there anyone able to stop TasWater?

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Photos by Judith Lello

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The North Arm of Waratah Reservoir - photo by Judith Lello

This used to be a place of vibrant aquatic ecosystems, an inspiration for every Australian. However, TasWater prefers to be famous for leaving the above as its corporate legacy to Waratah and every Australian, who visits our town. (To use TasWater’s own wording: ‘prudently managing our financial resources and operating efficiently’ - This is not a joke; but a shocking account by TasWater, expressing its culture and values)

Once we were able to see White bellied Sea-Eagles at Waratah Water Reservoir

Last summer a pair of white bellied sea eagles reared a young in one of the trees rimming the reservoir. They are now gone. There are less than 200 pairs in Tasmania (DPIPWE). White-bellied Sea Eagles are territorial and easily displaced by human activities and environmental disturbances. What happened to them is unknown; as the water receded they might have speared themselves on emerging sticks, whilst swooping upon their prey, or they might have tried to feed on one of TasWater’s suffocating marsupial victims, also dying, suffocating in mud. Perhaps they intruded into an adjacent territory of wedge tail eagles and lost their fight for living space…

We don’t live here anymore ...

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(Credit to owner inscribed on photo)

‘The white-bellied sea eagle was important to different tribes of indigenous people across Australia. The guardian animal of the Wreck Bay aboriginal community, it is also the official emblem of the Booderee National Park and Botanic Gardens in the Jervis Bay Territory. The community considered localities around Booderee National Park to be connected with it.[10] A local Sydney name was gulbi, and the bird was the totem of Colebee, the late 18th century indigenous leader of the Cadigal people.[66]

The white-bellied sea eagle is important to the Mak Mak people of the floodplains to the southwest of Darwin in the northern Territory, who recognised its connection with “good country”. It is their totem and integrally connected to their land.[67] The term Mak Mak is their name for both the species and themselves.[68] The Umbrawarra Gorge Nature Park was a Dreaming site of the bird, in this area known as Kuna-ngarrk-ngarrk.[69] It was similarly symbolic to the Tasmanian indigenous people—Nairanaa was one name used there. (Wikipedia2 1.3.2018, )

Is this the last Platypus ever to be seen in Waratah Water Reservoir?

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Photos by Judith Lello, 11.3.2018, 3:40pm

Trust TasWater?

Shame on you, TasWater!

*Helmut Ernst is Retired – ‘sort of ... Love this place, its people, and environs. Together we can make a difference’.