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Thinking of Lake Pedder – are we ready to kiss big dams goodbye?

Blog post by Senator Lee Rhiannon

Our party room has a spectacular photo of Lake Pedder before it was flooded. It is a picture of great beauty with small waves lapping the long pink quartzite beach.

Lake Pedder was again in my thoughts over the weekend when I read this article “Are we ready to kiss our big dams goodbye”. Many dams in the USA have been removed, some for ecological reasons. So surely it is time to rescue Lake Pedder, in south western Tasmania. The World Conservation Union has called for the restoration of this glacial lake.

I have often heard Senator Bob Brown speak of his passion for Lake Pedder, and now this campaign is gaining more prominence.

The “kiss big dams goodbye” theme was continued in a Weekend Australian article (plus a lovely photo) about the United Tasmania Group and the growing push to restore Lake Pedder to its former natural beauty.

This is an iconic campaign. For me it has an emotional edge. While I have never visited the southwest of Tasmania the first petition about an environmental campaign I signed was to
stop the flooding of Lake Pedder. It was 1972 and I had bumped into a family friend who was collecting signatures around Sydney’s Trades Hall. I remember him talking with considerable distress about what he called the vandalism of the Tasmanian government.

The name Lake Pedder was also stolen and has been used by the Hydro Electric Commission to refer to the reservoir of water held back by three dams – the Serpentine, Scotts Peak and Edgar. Lake Pedder does survive but for now is drowned below the Huon-Serpentine Impoundment; a body of water about 40 metres deep.

You can join the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee here, read Senator Bob Brown’s thoughts on the future of Lake Pedder here, and see this ABC program on the 30th anniversary of the flooding of Lake Pedder.

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