Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, Risdon Brook Dam is located near Risdon Vale on the eastern shore and was built in 1968 by the Metropolitan Water Board. It later became the responsibility of TasWater on the water authority's formation. That reservoir is set amongst beautiful scenic bushland and forms an important part of the Hobart water supply. As well as that, the Risdon Brook Reserve is a much-loved park to run, walk, jog, fish or enjoy a family barbecue with friends. The walking track is 4.4 kilometres long and would be remembered by many of those people whose school cross-countries were held around the dam.
The Recreational Tasmanian Road Runners Group describes Risdon Brook as a popular running location for Hobartians and home of Park Run, a free 5-kilometre run every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. It boasts a fantastic children's playground which is highly popular. It also has two specially constructed fishing spots for people with disabilities, which must be some of the only ones of their type in the state. They are little areas with parking and two platforms that have been constructed so people can pull up in their wheelchairs safely and have their carer alongside them and go fishing in privacy with their own little space.
The reserve is also home to the Risdon Brook Radio Yacht Club who sail their little remote-controlled vessels with a great amount of skill and mastery between buoys in miniature regattas which they hold, and they are a delight to watch. Unfortunately, there have been some heavy rains, as we all would remember, in late June, and Risdon Brook was closed to the public. We have been told by TasWater that this was due to some damage to the walking track and concerns about undermined trees. Many people in Hobart on the western and eastern shores are eagerly waiting for it to be reopened, but the reopening has never happened.
My office has been contacted by a gentleman from Risdon Vale who is very distressed that he has lost his place of exercise. He has limited mobility and access to transport, and Risdon Brook has, for a long time, been a place for him to stay healthy and go outside. I know that gentleman is not alone in that frustration, because a TasWater Facebook post on 5 September showed the ongoing closure has led to a number of posts from locals expressing their disappointment. A few of the comments that I will read include -
I am missing my weekend walks around the dam -
With a little 'cry' emoji.
Thanks for letting us know, TasWater. I am surprised the work is yet to start. It is an important community area for walking and health and wellbeing.
Another one said -
It is a very popular spot. I go there every weekend. Surprisingly, it has been three months since that rain.
We wrote to TasWater about this important public space and urged them to prioritise the restoration works, and to communicate an opening date to the community as soon as possible.
I received a response from the TasWater CEO. It is extremely disappointing, and it will be a disappointment for those people who are waiting for the reserve to reopen.
Mr Brewster, the CEO, said -
We are aiming to reopen the facility by Christmas, barring any unforeseen issues.
Mr Deputy Speaker, that would be nearly five months of Risdon Brook closed to the public.
The damage was described as -
Deep burrows into pathways, making it hazardous for walkers, and concern regarding the stability of some of the trees adjacent to the pedestrian area.
I can accept that the issues might be serious, but five months to do that rectification is incredible, and it is not reasonable. TasWater has very skilled civil works teams, and they are able to excavate half a street with trees, and/or repair a pipe, fill and remediate that in a matter of hours - so I really do not understand and struggle to believe that there is a real reason for TasWater not to complete these works.
They have to reaffirm their commitment to keeping Risdon Brook Dam open to the public at all. There are rumours circulating that TasWater has never wanted the community to be there, and is using this as an opportunity to go slow and maybe never reopen it. I certainly hope that is not the case.
We all know how important exercise is for physical and mental health. It is not just a reservoir. It is an important public space for the community on the eastern shore, especially those people who do not own a car and cannot afford to travel to other parks.
We will be continuing to call on TasWater to fix the path, and to have an arborist assess the trees, and to reopen the reserve for the public on the eastern shore as soon as possible.