Derwent Valley water alert pump

New technology from Hydro Tasmania will inform Derwent Valley farmers about changing water levels – potentially saving them thousands of dollars on irrigation pump maintenance.

The new system of water level notifications provides customised SMS, email and text-to-speech alerts from Hydro Tasmania’s remote sensors, advising subscribers of water levels for business or recreational purposes.

The technology has been adopted by river users and landowners in the Derwent Valley.

Hydro Tasmania CEO, Steve Davy, said the business had been speaking with farmers downstream from its dams and heard that irrigation pumps were either being drowned or running dry every few years due to changing water levels, the cost of repairs that start at $3,000 per pump.

This is particularly concerning for farmers with sensitive crops, who need to plan their irrigation to get the best yields.

“A farmer in the Lower Derwent may not be aware of rain upstream in the river system that is causing water levels in our dams to rise, until they spill, and because changing water levels can impact users in different ways, our new water alert system will let you subscribe to a range of alerts, depending on your needs,” Mr Davy said.

“This information has been available on our website for many years, but we wanted to go a step further and after our initial tests with local users in the Derwent Valley were successful, we’ve used their feedback to help develop the final product.”

The new system is for water level changes that are smaller than those in flood alerts from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

Mr Davy explained that Hydro Tasmania can only provide information about the waterways it manages, so information from BOM and State Emergency Services should continue to be consulted in the event of a flood.

The new water alerts system is initially available for the Derwent and Ouse rivers only, but will be expanded to the Mersey Forth, King, South Esk and Pieman rivers over 2020-2022.

Now that the technology is open to the public, canoeists, kayakers and anglers can also take advantage, as the alerts will help them enjoy increased flows, protect their equipment, or let them know if they still have access to their favourite fishing spot.

More information on Hydro Tasmania’s water alert system is available here.

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