Australia’s Hawkesbury River to get a pollution reprieve!

30 January 2012

From time to time I need to reiterate the purpose of Droplets:  This is a South African blog seeking to provide, by example, case studies of water quality issues around the world that are reported in the daily press.  By implication, such reporting illustrates the level of environmental education on this subject that prevails in the daily news readership of the countries from where the articles are drawn.  For example, the articles below highlight the very broad level of understanding about water pollution issues in Australia.

By contrast, water quality issues in South Africa are not reported, nor does the National Regulator for water issues seem at all concerned about the already-extreme level of water quality degradation in this country.  In this regard, Droplets intends to augment this huge information gap by showing how others “do it”.  It is hoped that one day, in the not-too-distant future, South African journalists will strive to extend this process.

Readers who troll back through Droplets posts will find both a story and a pattern of inaction that extends back, in this country, almost 30 years!  Without an informed public very little can be achieved as in the land of the blind…

Oyster farmers and residents are pleased with a decision to abandon the release of more effluent into the Hawkesbury River, north of the New South Wales capital, Sydney, saying it will ensure the health of the famous waterway.

Sydney Water has announced it was withdrawing an application to the state Planning Department to increase effluent discharges into the river after a long-running local campaign against the plan.

Instead of releasing an extra 3.9 tonnes of nitrogen and 2.1 tonnes of phosphorus, Sydney Water will spend $1 million to upgrade filtration at its Brooklyn plant.

President of the Broken Bay Oysters Association John Stubbs said the back down was terrific news” for Hawkesbury farmers who had worried about algal blooms.

“Any increase in nutrients into the river had the potential for an increase in algal blooms into the future,” Mr Stubbs said.

South Africa’s pretender World Class Cities need to take note!  Stop dodging your responsibilities and stop polluting the environment that we all share!

Source: Geelong Advertiser

More from Oz:

Albury-based Dave Breedon runs a canoe-hire business and says the conditions of the Murray [River] at Albury are the best he has seen for a while.

It’s a welcome relief for Breedon who says its been a challenging few years with not only drought, but other factors including blue-green algae impacting his business.

“The last ten years has been tough… sometimes (during the challenges) you wonder whether it is worth doing, but I have a fairly loyal customer base and they have stuck by me through the years, so yes I’m pretty glad we stuck through it all.”

“”The season was a slow start and since September we have had nine weekends where it has rained on at least one day of those weekends.

“We had a blue-green algae outbreak a couple of years ago that put a damper on things… You would not have noticed if you looked at the river but the blue-green algae levels were a little high.”

“That was two summers ago since then we had a good flush out of the river last year and now it is looking quite good.”

And, at Port Phillip Bay (Gippsland)

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is warning people to be cautious when swimming at beaches affected by a possible algal bloom in Port Phillip Bay.

The EPA has rated the water quality at more than two-thirds of the bay’s beaches today as poor.

Swimmers at Dromana and Safety Beach yesterday reported seeing murky, smelly water.

Most algal blooms are harmless but some can cause skin irritations and other health problems.

The EPA has been visually monitoring the bloom since it was spotted in the bay last week.

And, on the Barwon River:

Toxic algal blooms along the Barwon River are expected to get worse before they improve with prime conditions for the bacteria to thrive.

Sections have been closed and people have been warned not to have any contact with the affected water.

The two separate outbreaks are in the lower Barwon from Lake Connewarre out to Barwon Heads and in the heart of Geelong.

Last week, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority closed a section of the river from below Baums Weir to the Moorabool St Bridge.

While the algae is at its thickest around Queens Park, smaller blooms have been detected further downstream, prompting the CMA to post warning signs along affected stretches.

Despite the outbreaks, the Barwon Regatta went ahead at the weekend with more than 1500 rowers taking to the water.

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