When I walked along bodies of water dammed on the Derwent River such as Lake King William, I remarked on the low water levels, showed photos of deep barren shores, and posted about the coming danger to Tasmania’s electricity supply. You can refer to a range of posts for different views on this topic including the following examples: Tarraleah Canal No 1 walk – where is the water?, Lake King William, The rocky shore, Looking for a place to camp overnight, Death and Lake King William, Rise and shine, Trackless under the powerlines, and Andrew Hughes has walked, rafted and canoed the Derwent over the past month.
Newspapers recorded some of the extremes; here is one of The Mercury examples.
Hydro Tasmania is the organisation which manages water resources by selling power not only to Tasmanians but via an undersea link to Victorians and further afield on mainland Australia. For a very long while Tasmania had an unusually low rainfall, then when the Bass Link failed at the end of last year, this meant Tasmania could not buy power from the mainland if in crisis. Over half a year passed before the fault was repaired and in that time water levels in dams, lakes and the river dropped steadily. In damage control, as politicians and the community worried about the reducing water levels, Hydro Tasmania released the information that our State could survive and continue to generate sufficient electricity in the local newspaper with dams at an even lower capacity . Nevertheless failure for rains to fall, created a situation where massive banks of diesel power generators were installed. The operation of these generators cost Tasmania millions of dollars. The photo in this article shows an area being prepared for generators, and then the next article shows the installation outside Catagunya Power Station. Generators were placed in many locations. This article shows banks of generators outside the Meadowbank Power Station; this is the closest power station to Hobart and is one of many that operates using the water from the Derwent River.
The dry situation was desperate. Cloud Seeding was being practised as an option to bring on the rain.
Eventually the gods or nature heeded the call and the heavens opened. As winter approached, welcome rain poured and began to replenish our dams and lakes. The rain was heavy and persisted so that the water levels improved dramatically. In the process, many parts of Tasmania experienced severe floods. Dramatic stories were released in the media . The Ouse River, which feeds into the Derwent River, was the site of the death of one man.
These were terrible days for many.
Now the climate seems has returned to some sense of balance. Our glorious spring time, albeit with some hotter days than normal, has passed and summer has arrived. We all hope for prudent management of electricity generating water resources and for intelligent planning for extreme events – which we know are now more frequent around the world. In this way, the Derwent River will remain a living and useful flow of water which poses little risk to affecting people, animals and the surrounding landscape.