VITAL SUPPORT: Tamar River Cruises’ Dennis Radin, Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten and Launceston Flood Authority chairman Alan Birchmore are lobbying for $1.5 million from the federal government. Picture: Holly MoneryContinued funding towards the Tamar River silt raking program is vital to the city’s future, saidLaunceston Mayor Albert van Zetten.

The City of Launceston, along with the Launceston Flood Authority and a number of waterfront business operators hope to secure $1.5 million of federal fundingover three years.

“The Federal Government’s last contribution of $2.5 million allowed some drastic improvements to be made through the silt raking campaign, and I believe the continuation of this program is vital to improving the health and amenity of the upper reaches of the Tamar River,” he said.

“While there are many challenges facing the river, this funding will allow us to use significant rainfall events as an opportunity to shift significant amounts of silt from the upper Tamar.”

Chairman of the Launceston Flood Authority Alan Birchmore said the federal fundingallocationallows for extra workof significant value.“We’going to use the allocation this year, given that we get it, on running a number of sediment levels against various flows, so that we can understandmore precisely where the dangers are with flooding and those sorts of things,” he said.

“We’ve come so far in the last three years, you couldn’tcompare it with anything before, we’re so much more knowledgeable about it and we’ve achieved so much.”

Dennis Radin from Tamar River Cruises said the raking program is essentialto allow tourists to view the Gorge from the boat.“We won’t operate if it goes back to [a high sediment]stage. We’re a tourist operation, and a lot of Launceston’s perspective income in based on tourism,” he said.

“Raking programs are essential to the health and well-being of the areafrom a tourist perspective and a wildlife perspective.”

Launceston businessman Errol Stewart agreed and said the continuation of raking was critical for the future success of the city.

“If you go back ten years then look at today, the amount of foot traffic that goes around Royal Park and the Seaport, around the silo levee and along Kings Wharf it’s just become a hub for the community,” Mr Stewart said. “Whether it’s people walking, mums pushing prams, cyclists riding around, recreational runners, the river edge has become a recreational hub.It’s dead simple,the raking program works, and we need it to continue.”

It is understood Bass MHR Andrew Nikolic will briefMinister for the Environment Greg Hunt about the fundingrequest next week.

Bass Labor candidate Ross Hart said his focus was on securingfunds forTaswater’s multi-year project to deliver cleanwater in the Tamar.

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