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Case #907

Restoring a Lost Tasmanian Lake - Lake Pedder


In the natural world, Lake Pedder was among creativity's masterpieces. It was the jewel in the wilderness of South West Tasmania (Australia), a magnificent untouched natural formation that instilled wonder and uplifted the spirit of all who had the good fortune to experience it. In 1972 its sparkling beach was lost beneath the rising waters when Pedder was flooded in order to increase the output of the Gordon hydro electric scheme by a mere twelve per cent producing electricity that Tasmania did not need.

It was a tragedy that could have been averted. "Many now think of Lake Pedder as having been inundated as much by ignorance as by the cold water of a hydro electric reservoir," wrote Helen Gee, co-ordinator of Pedder 2000, who are campaigning to restore the lake. "No politician who decreed the destruction of the lake actually visited it; no proper environmental impact study was ever conducted before the in-principle decision was made to build the dams." Despite public protest the dams went ahead. Almost immediately after the flooding there was a federal enquiry that raised the possibility of reversing the tragedy.

Chris Tebbutt was one of the many committed people who fought to save the lake before the flooding. Aged only 19, he maintained a mostly solitary vigil on the lake for seven months, rescuing stranded animals and recording the rising flood. He was the last to leave and is enthusiastic about the Pedder 2000's campaign to remove the dam and restore the Lake to its former glory. "I think restoration is do-able and I would move back from California in a minute to take part in it."


THE STRATEGY: Devise a strategy to remove the dam and restore Lake Pedder to its former glory.

*** The original landforms (now flooded by the impounded water) are still intact.
*** Lake Pedder has a high national and international profile and when it is restored it will attract many visitors. Bob Brown sees it as "more than just restoring a globally unique World Heritage feature - it offers great opportunities in terms of jobs and economic flow-on through the world-wide appeal of the project." *** There are proposals for restoring Pedder as a wilderness area as well as enabling carefully controlled access, which would bring in the tourism dollars.
*** Some of the original species in the lake habitat are recoverable.

IMPORTANT POINTS: The Pedder 2000 organizers are working steadfastly to achieve their goal, not just for this beautiful lake, but as a symbol for the whole world, proving that economics are not the most important consideration. "We will not surrender the Earth. People everywhere are joining in an intelligent determination that peace, goodwill and longsighted respect for the natural world must gain ascendancy over the rule of guns, graders and greed. If we lose it will not be worse than if we had not tried. If we win, all future generations will delight in our success, and looking back, wonder at the challenges before which we now shudder. They will also delight in the recovery of Lake Pedder."
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Action: Restoration
Setting: Developed World, Wilderness
Extent of Action: Local
Issues: Economics
Year(s): 2000
Outcome in progress
Source: Living Lightly, #20, Summer, 2002, p.16


Pedder 2000, Helen Gee, 130 Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia Tel: 61 03 6223 5155 Fax: 61 03 6223 5112, http://neptune.he.net/-pedder
Prepared By: sl, 11/09
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