Water resources in Tasmania

Tasmania has vast lakes and numerous dams. Rainfall, particularly on the west coast of Tasmania, is generally high.

For the last ten years Australia, south of the tropics, has been experiencing the worst drought in more than 100 years. Tasmania has been affected and the greatest impact has been on the generation of hydro-electricity.

However, Tasmania has an abundance of fresh water for domestic consumption. Only five percent of Tasmania’s water is consumed for irrigation, for industry, for commerce and for domestic use. What is not collected in the mountain lakes and dams flows out to sea.

water management in tasmania

While Tasmania has adequate fresh water for general consumption, there are geographic, seasonal and infrastructure factors that have to be managed by three water authorities – Cradle Coast Water in north-western Tasmania, Esk Water in the north-east and Hobart Water in southern Tasmania.

It is wetter in winter than in summer in Tasmania. The east coast of Tasmania is much drier than the west coast.

Areas of the east coast of Tasmania and the town of sorell have inadequate infrastructure. In the case of some small towns and areas there is the practical problem, and associated cost, of transferring water from where it is available to where it is needed. Examples of affected areas are Campbell Town and Ross in the midlands, and Coles Bay, Swansea and St Helens on the east coast where there have been difficulties with contamination or limited water supplies.

The Tasmanian government has approached the federal government in order to access allocated funds for infrastructure improvements.

Highland Lake
Highland lake
© Tourism Tasmania and Warren Steptoe.
Snow in winter helps to fill lakes and dams in the Tasmanian mountains.


The island of Tasmania accounts for less than 1% of Australia’s land area. It has a little more than 2% of Australia’s population. But it has 12% of Australia’s fresh water resources.

Gordon Dam
Gordon Dam
Hydro Tasmania has 50 dams for generating hydro-electricity.

hydro-electricity and the drought in tasmania

The drought has affected water storage levels of Hydro Tasmania dams in Tasmania.

Tasmania imports electricity from Victoria via Basslink to make up for shortfalls in power generation.

meander dam

A new water storage resource has been constructed in the central-north of Tasmania.

details and related news story ...

New dams in Tasmania to be fast-tracked

A bill to fast-track new dams in Tasmania was passed in the Tasmanian parliament in April 2007 .

Water Minister David Llewellyn said in February 2007 that previously-shelved proposals for projects such as the Waterhouse Dam and seven others in north-east Tasmania were back on the table.

» more ...

water restrictions in tasmania

Many cities on mainland Australia are on tough water restrictions as the country suffers the worst drought in more than 100 years.

Tasmania is also in the midst of its driest period ever but, because of its vast lakes and numerous dams, there are virtually no water restrictions for domestic consumption.

During the last summer, while Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide residents were not allowed to water their gardens, Hobart’s 85,000 households were asked to restrict outdoors watering to every second day through January and February 2007. The reason was to maintain reserves in case of a need to fight bush fires.

Hobart’s water is drawn 20% from Mt Wellington, 20% from Mt Field and 60% from the upper reaches of the Derwent River. And, such is the excess, 99% of the fresh water that flows down the Derwent flows out to sea.

Hobart Lord Mayor, Rob Valentine, said of the level one restrictions imposed at the end of 2006: “It is not a problem of too little water. It is to make sure that we don’t get to a point where we can’t deliver water in an emergency, like a bushfire. It is also about consumer education and awareness.”

The restrictions in Hobart were lifted at the end of February 2007.

On the thirsty continent of Australia, only the tropical north and Tasmania are in such fortunate positions.

hobart’s water

Most of Hobart’s water comes from the Derwent River. The flow is so great that 99% of this fresh water is simply allowed to run out to sea.

The municipalities of Hobart, Glenorchy and Clarence have not thought it necessary to connect water meters to houses and businesses.


Up to 2,700 megalitres of recycled water from the Rosny Point Sewage Treatment plant is to be made available to farms, vineyards, golf courses and other major users in the clarence municipality.

The $16.4 million scheme will reduce the outfall of nutrients into the Derwent Estuary while offering substantial price reductions to bulk water customers.

launceston’s water

There are no water restrictions in Launceston although residents have been asked to take care with their water usage.

Esk Water Authority general manager, Barry Cash, says, “It’s better for people to be careful than to have restrictions.”

Esk Water uses 20 to 25 megalitres of water a day to feed Launceston and the East Tamar. It draws most of this from the North Esk River, some from the St Patricks River and five megalitres a day from the Curries River Dam via a water treatment plant at Bell Bay.