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Partnership continues efforts to improve the Derwent Estuary

The partners in the Derwent Estuary Program have extended an agreement to restore, promote and protect the Derwent estuary.

The Premier David Bartlett joined the six councils that border on the Derwent estuary (Brighton, Clarence, Derwent Valley, Glenorchy, Hobart and Kingborough) and four major industry partners (Nyrstar Hobart Smelter, Norske Skog Paper, Hobart Water and the Tasmanian Ports Corporation) to sign the Derwent Estuary Program Partnership Agreement.

"The Derwent estuary lies at the heart of the Hobart metropolitan area. It is an asset of great beauty and natural diversity and supports several large industries," said Director of the Derwent Estuary Program Christine Coughanowr.

"During the past 10 years more than million had been spent towards environmental improvements and the Derwent is now showing promising signs of recovery," Ms Coughanowr said.

"Heavy metals and organic loads have declined by over 50%% and major improvements have also been made to sewage discharges through advanced treatment and effluent reuse."

The signing commits partners to progressively manage the Derwent estuary over the next 10 to 20 years.

The first Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) Partnership Agreement was signed in December 2001 and included the implementation of an Environmental Management Plan.

Ms Coughanowr said by renewing the agreement, and updating the plan, the partners agree a strategic and coordinated management approach across all levels of government, industry and the community remains the best prospect for a cleaner and healthier estuary in the future.

Key areas for action identified under the 2009 plan include:

• Managing and reducing heavy metal contamination
• Preventing eutrophication
• Promoting water sensitive urban design
• Conserving iconic habitats and species
• Linking and extending foreshore tracks
• Enhancing catchment flows and water quality
• Education and interpretation

"Since its inception in 1999, the DEP has been nationally recognised for excellence in reducing water pollution, conserving habitats and species, monitoring river health and promoting greater use and enjoyment of the foreshore," Ms Coughanowr said.

"As the condition of the estuary improves, there is growing interest in conserving and enjoying the Derwent’s natural features. The DEP has led initiatives to increase the area of protected wetlands by 40%% and to preserve iconic species such as the little penguin."

More recently, the DEP has developed strategies to link and extend foreshore tracks and to increase awareness and enjoyment of the Derwent through interpretations.