Lake Pedder

Lake Pedder

Infobox lake
lake_name = Lake Pedder
image_lake = Lake_pedder_small.jpg
caption_lake = Original Lake Pedder, 1970
image_bathymetry =
caption_bathymetry =
location = Tasmania
coords = coord|42|56|S|146|08|E|region:AU_type:waterbody|display=inline,title
type = From 1972: reservoir, artificial impoundment, diversion pond; until 1972: natural lake
inflow =
outflow =
catchment =
basin_countries = Australia
length =
width =
area =
depth new= 13m - 16m
max-depth original= +3m
max-depth new= 43m
volume =
residence_time =
shore =
elevation =
islands, original= 2
islands, new= 45
cities =
frozen =

Lake Pedder was a former natural lake, located in the southwest of Tasmania, Australia, and is now the name used to refer to the much larger artificial impoundment and diversion pond formed when the original lake was flooded by damming in 1972 by Hydro Electric Commission.From the point of reference of opponents of the damming of the original lake it should be known as the "Huon-Serpentine impoundment".

Lake Pedder and 'New' Lake Pedder

The lake was named after Sir John Pedder, the first Chief Justice of Tasmania. The name of the original lake was officially transferred to the new man-made impoundment. Although the new Lake Pedder incorporates the original lake, it does not resemble it in size, appearance or ecology. It consists of a large impoundment contained by three dams:

* Serpentine Dam - a 38 m high rockfill dam with a concrete upstream face on the Serpentine River.
* Scotts Peak Dam - a 43 m high rockfill dam with a bitumen upstream face on the upper reaches of the Huon River near Scotts Peak.
* Edgar Dam - a 17 m high rockfill dam at Lake Edgar near Scotts Peak.

The dams were designed and constructed by Tasmania's Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) as part of the Upper Gordon River hydro-electric generation scheme. This scheme was developed to substantially increase Tasmania's capacity to generate hydro-electricity in accordance with the Tasmanian Government's policy of attempting to attract secondary industry to the State with the incentive of cheap renewable energy.

The new Huon Serpentine impoundment, which filled after the dams were completed in 1972, is joined with Lake Gordon by McPartlan Canal, and together the lakes form the biggest water-storage catchment in Australia.


There were many protests in Tasmania and mainland Australia at the flooding of the original lake, before during and after construction of the dams. Protests began when in 1967 the Tasmanian Government revoked the status of the Lake Pedder National Park that had protected the lake since 1955. The role of the HEC as a surrogate wing of the Tasmanian government was perceived when the political or wider social dissent against the HEC power over the Tasmanian environment seemed impregnable. Individuals such as the politician "Electric Eric" Eric Reece and Allan Knight, the HEC CEO at the time, were seen as staunch defenders of the 'damming' of Tasmania against any opinion to the contrary, and were not averse to taking their opinions to state wide and national advertising campaigns asserting their right to dam the lake [ McKenry, Keith (1972) "A History and critical analysis of the controversy concerning the Gordon River Power Scheme" pp.9 - 39 in Australian Conservation Foundation (1972)" Pedder Papers - Anatomy of a Decision" Parkville, Vic. Australian Conservation Foundation - specially the appendix with examples of the advertising used pp. 30-39 ]


A series of photographs in the 1976 Tasmanian Year book illustrated the process of flooding of the Lake Pedder area [
*Reid, Vern (1976) "B&W photos between p.248 and 249and not indexed" "Tasmanian Year Book" No.10 1976. Australian Bureau of Statistics Tasmanian Office ISSN 0082-2116

Community response

The community feeling extended well beyond Tasmania and spread throughout Australia and internationally. The focus on the South West Tasmania Wilderness area as an environmental battleground increased interest in the area, and many travelled to Lake Pedder before the original lake was flooded to see what the issues were about.

The protests included the United Tasmania Group who were the precursor to the Tasmanian Greens and are now recognised as the world's first green party. The group that preceded the Tasmanian Wilderness Society - the South West Tasmania Action Committee continued after the flooding, with the knowledge that surveying and appraising other catchments in the south west and west of Tasmania was well underway by the HEC. Although increasingly sophisticated economic, environmental and engineering arguments were raised by the opponents of the dam, it was not until the Franklin scheme that either the Hydro or its defenders were even considering the critiques.

Concerns over the construction of the dam revolved around the loss of the distinctive pink quartzite beach of the original lake, and an increased understanding of the unique nature of the wilderness quality to the south west of Tasmania. This developed further with the Franklin Dam issue.

In 1994, a campaign group was launched called Pedder 2000. They proposed, unsuccessfully, the draining and restoration of the lake to its original state. There is an ongoing low-key campaign with the same goal, which occasionally re-enters the public consciousness. [ Lake Pedder Restoration Committee] ]

A Controversial and Contested Name

As is the case in many land use, land ownership and territorial disputes, the name currently officially assigned to this body of water has considerable significance. It is also important in terms of understanding the technical status of the body of water as a component of a hydro-electric scheme.

Many people opposed to the flooding of the original lake do not accept the legitimacy of the official, gazetted name of Lake Pedder for the body of water that drowned it in 1972. Instead, they prefer to use the name Huon-Serpentine Impoundment. This name denotes the two major rivers dammed to create the current lake (Huon and Serpentine) and describes the technical status of the lake as an element of a hydro-electric scheme (impoundment) more accurately than the terms lake or reservoir.Fact|date=June 2008

From a technical, hydro-electric scheme point of view, the current Lake Pedder is an impoundment or diversion pond rather than a reservoir or lake.

While the term reservoir can be applied to any body of stored water, in a hydro-electric scheme it is usually understood to mean a body of stored water that can be drawn down to ensure water is available to drive the scheme's turbines and thus generate electricity when insufficient water is entering the reservoir to keep it full. The current impoundment does not and can not fulfil this function because there is no mechanism in place (pumping infrastructure) to draw down the water and transfer it to the neighbouring Lake Gordon where the Upper Gordon hydro-electric scheme's only power station is located.Fact|date=June 2008

Lake Pedder Extinctions

The Lake Pedder earthworm ("Hypolimnus pedderensis") is only known by the type specimen collected from a beach on Lake Pedder, Tasmania in 1971. After the changes of the lake this animal was never seen again. A survey in 1996 that was carried out to determine whether this species still existed in the area failed to find the animal. The Lake Pedder Earthworm is since 2003 listed as extinct on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. [ * [ IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Hypolimnus pedderensis] ]

Another extinction that occurred after the changes to the lake is that of the Lake Pedder planarian ("Romankenkius pedderensis"), an endemic flatworm. This animal is listed as extinct on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 1996. [ * [ IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Romankenkius pedderensis] ]

The Pedder galaxias, is considered extinct in its natural habitat of Lake Pedder and its tributaries, but still exists in captivity and in a translocated population at Lake Oberon in the Western Arthurs. [ * [ The Extinction Website] ]


*1 million years ago: Glacial outwash blocks the flow of the Serpentine River. A unique glacial lake is formed nine square kilometres in area with a beach of pink quartz sand three kilometre long and nearly one kilometre wide.

*20000 years ago: Aboriginal people lived in the area and frequented the Lake.

*1835: Surveyor John Wedge names the lake “Pedder” after the Chief Justice of the colony sir John Lewes Pedder
*1874: Landscape painter William Piguenit visits and paints at Lake Pedder
*1898: A branch of the Port Davey track reaches Lake Pedder
*1946: The first light plane landing is made on the 3 km beach
*1955: The Lake becomes the heart and focus of the newly gazetted "Lake Pedder National Park"
*1968: Lake Pedder National Park is incorporated in the Southwest National Park
*1967: Premier Eric Reece announces the Gordon Power scheme will “result in some modification to the Lake Pedder National Park”
*1972: The world’s first Green Party, the United Tasmania Group (UTG) is formed to oppose the flooding.
*1972: In spite of a massive campaign of national and international opposition, the lake is flooded to provide an extra 60MW of electricity.
*1973: The Tasmanian government refuses an offer from the Commonwealth Government to fund a simple alternative version of the Gordon Scheme in order to save the lake.
*1982: The Huon Serpentine impoundment (the new name of the flooded Lake Pedder) is included within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area because of the IUCN’s (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) express hope for its restoration of the natural lake.
*1993: The IUCN, meeting in Buenos Aires, passes a unanimous resolution calling for the restoration of the lake [] .
*1993: Scientific studies reveal that beneath 15 metres of water, the features of the Lake Pedder area – beach, dunes and Serpentine River – are unchanged under a few millimetres of silt.
*1994: "Pedder 2000" restoration campaign is launched in Hobart with national and international expressions of support.

ee also

*Franklin Dam
*Gordon Power Station
*Hydro Tasmania
*Tasmanian Wilderness Society
*The South West Book


Further reading

* Gee, H and Fenton, J. (Eds) (1978) "The South West Book - A Tasmanian Wilderness" Melbourne, Australian Conservation Foundation. ISBN 0-85802-054-8
* Green, Roger (1981) "Battle for the Franklin" Sydney: Australian Conservation Foundation and Fontana Books ISBN 0006367151 - specifically pp 26-38 for an extended interview with Eric Reece regarding his role in the flooding Lake Pedder.
* Lines, William J. "Patriots : defending Australia's natural heritage" St. Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2006. ISBN 0-70223-554-7
* Neilson, D. (1975) "South West Tasmania - A land of the Wild". Adelaide. Rigby. ISBN 0-85179-874-8
* Thompson, Peter (1981) "Power in Tasmania" Hawthorn, Victoria Australian Conservation Foundation. ISBN 0-85802-064-5

External links

* [ Gordon River Power Scheme - Hydro Tasmania]
* [ Position in World Heritage Area - Tasmanian National Parks]
* [ Panorama of "new" Lake Pedder - Photograph]
* [ Essay concerning the issues surrounding the Dam's construction]

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