It’s no secret that the Tamar River Estuary has a number of problems. From the water quality, through to the mud, silt, rice grass and flooding, there is no shortage of issues to choose from.
A new group of concerned citizens has formed, calling themselves the ‘Tamar Action Group’ or TAG.
Chair of the Tamar Action Group, Andrew Lovitt, said the group was non-political, non-profit, pro-environmental and run completely by volunteers.
Pointing out the advantages to fixing the issues in the Tamar, Mr Lovitt said that Launceston is one of the most well-managed, attractive, and liveable cities in Australia.
“Our city has blossomed under the guidance of the Councils, State Governments and citizen groups and volunteers.”
“We live on the confluence of 3 rivers,” said Mr Lovitt, “a situation virtually unique in Australia.”
Pointing out the importance of looking after the Tamar, Mr Lovitt said that surveys have continually found that the Tamar is considered our most important asset.
The group claims that Launceston, and the Tamar Valley’s river system, is suffering from neglect and inaction. Claiming that activities such as rowing, sailing, and boating are in danger of being squeezed out of existence.
Tamar Rowing Club Captain Henry Youl said that as the sediment builds up, the channel becomes smaller and more difficult to navigate.
“You have to squeeze through a narrow channel at low tide, compared to what it was 2 years ago.”
“It’s not an uncommon occurrence for people to get stuck.”
This also creates a safety issue as more inexperienced rowers and boaters may panic and get out of the boat, and into the mud.
The Tamar Action Group also claim that the mud build-up at the base of the levee banks will compromise their effectiveness, making us less protected from sea-level increases and weakening our flood mitigation.
The group say that it is ‘incredibly evident’ that the build-up of mud is expanding since the dredging and raking in the Tamar were stopped.
The mud isn’t the only problem the group are focussing on, however, with the concern of Rice Grass also a large focus.
Rice Grass was introduced to the Tamar in 1947, with the intention being to help stabilise mudflats and improving navigation, however the plant spread rapidly and uncontrolled throughout the estuary and is now one of the world’s largest infestations, covering a total of 415 hectares.
“[Rice Grass] creates monocultures, excluding all other native plants,” said Mr Lovitt, “It is progressively squeezing our native flora and fauna.”
The group also claims that the Rice Grass infestation is narrowing the river, creating faster tides, more hazardous navigation and discouraging recreational boating.
“Residents on both sides of the river are getting less and less access to the river, and less and less attractive vistas.”
The groups two main objectives are to call for both short-term and long-term solutions.
While the group say they are not wedded to any particular solution, they are calling for the resumption of dredging or raking as a short-term solution to the mud, while long-term solutions are still being investigated.
Membership with the Tamar Action Group is free and open to all. The TAG will run a social media campaign calling for members.