Media Release – Get the Site Right – 2 October

Running Run-off Out of Town: One Day Blitz on Building Site Controls

Hundreds of building sites across Sydney and the Central Coast will be inspected on 15 October as part of a blitz to protect local waterways from run-off.

The campaign targets erosion and sediment control on building and construction sites and highlights the impact of sediment laden run-off on our waterways. The blitz aims to build on the improvements achieved in the month-long campaign held in May when more than 1,110 building sites were inspected by 19 councils, NSW Environment Protection Authority and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment officers.

In May, 63 per cent were compliant with the sediment requirements, a 13 per cent improvement on the 2018 campaign. A total of $290,700 in fines was issued for sites that failed to follow the rules.

Get the Site Right is a joint program between the Parramatta River Catchment Group, Cooks River Alliance, Georges River Combined Councils Committee, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Lake Macquarie Council, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and local councils.

EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said construction sites were getting the message about sediment control. “Results from the May campaign showed that there was an 86 per cent improvement in compliance rates on sites that were non-compliant on first visit and then had a repeat visit,” Ms Howard said.

“Get the Site Right isn’t just about fines. While we won’t hesitate to issue them for a breach the real aim is to stop run-off, and that means educating developers and builders about the role they can play to improve the health of our waterways by managing and preventing sediment laden run-off.” “Many tradies and construction workers also like to fish in their time off, or to picnic with their families around our city’s iconic waterways, so at work it is possible for them to make the connection to help keep our environment clean and healthy. ”

Sediment spills affect our environment and waterways by:

  • Destroying aquatic habitats and smothering native plants and animals that live in our waterways.
  • Directly polluting creeks, rivers and harbours by filling them with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This
    leads to poorer water quality, affecting swimming or leisure activities in and around our waterways.
  • Blocking stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows.
  • Eroding creek and riverbanks.

Members of the public can report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.

More information about the campaign and the importance of erosion and sediment control is available at: www.ourlivingriver.com.au/getthesiteright

Media Release – 2 May 2019

Regulating Run-off: Polluters Targeted During May Inspection Blitz

Building sites that fail to control their runoff will be in the firing line this month as the Get the Site Right campaign gets underway.

The Get the Site Right compliance and education campaign will last throughout May, with council and EPA officers targeting erosion and sediment control on building and construction sites across Sydney and the Central Coast.

The campaign aims to improve the health of local waterways and has a firm target of making Parramatta River swimmable by the year 2025.

The campaign has grown in size and industry awareness each year. It is a joint initiative between the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG), the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Cooks River Alliance, Georges River Riverkeeper, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Department of Planning & Environment, and over 20 councils.

EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said Get the Site Right is focused on minimising environmental harm.

“Everybody wants a local place to swim, and the Get the Site Right campaign is part of that push to make rivers and waterways swimmable,” Ms Howard said.

“Up to four truckloads of soil from a building site can be washed away in a single storm, damaging vital aquatic ecosystems, so it is crucial that developers are putting the right control systems in place. “While Get the Site Right is a targeted compliance blitz that will include the issuing of fines, we are focused on is prevention as the cure; we want developers and builders to stop the sediment leaving their site boundaries in the first place, by putting the appropriate erosion and sediment controls in place.”

Campaigns such as Get the Site Right play an important role in raising awareness about the many ways industry and the community can help us to achieve a clean and safe river.

In the May 2018 campaign, 50 per cent of sites were compliant with the sediment run-off prevention measures, and a total of $212,412 in fines was issued from 746 site inspections.

Why is sediment runoff from constructions sites a problem? Sediment spills affect our environment and waterways in a number of ways, including:

  • Destroys aquatic habitats and smothers native plants and animals that live in our waterways.
  • Directly pollutes creeks, river and harbours by filling them with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This leads to poorer water quality, affecting swimming or leisure activities in and around our waterways.
  • Blocks stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows.
  • Erodes creek and river banks.
  • Causes health and safety risks such as slippery roads and tripping hazards.

Members of the public can report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555. More information on erosion and sediment control is available at: www.ourlivingriver.com.au/getthesiteright

 

SCCG Media Release – 11 December 2018

Endangered Shorebirds Threatened by Dogs on Protected Beaches:

Endangered shorebirds in the Sydney region are being threatened by irresponsible pet owners illegally allowing their pets onto protected beaches.  Some of Sydney’s beaches provide vital habitat for species such as the threatened Little Penguin and the Pied Oystercatcher. Dogs are a key risk to these birds which can disturb nests, maim and even kill adults and their young.

Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) represents nine estuarine and coastal councils in Sydney and supports these councils to have biodiverse, clean and healthy waterways. Sarah Joyce from the SCCG says that “we are urging the public to obey signs on beaches which identify if there are any restrictions to public access”.  Dogs are prohibited on the majority of beaches in the Sydney region – if you see dogs on protected beaches, please call your Council ranger immediately”.

The endangered Little Penguin population in Manly has been previously decimated by foxes.  Important habitat for this species is located in Little Manly and the beaches of North Head.

Volunteer penguin wardens regularly patrol beaches in Manly to ensure the public is aware of the rules that operate in Little Penguin habitat. They have been extremely disappointed to see that some owners are allowing their dogs on protected beaches. “The presence or even smell of dogs on these beaches deters penguins from going to their nests which means that their chicks are not fed. We have also had examples of dogs on beaches killing penguins” said Sally Garman, who is the Manly penguin warden coordinator.

In the Sutherland Shire, members of the Southcoast Shorebirds Recovery Group, Sutherland Council and others have been working diligently to save the Pied Oystercatcher at Maianbar. There are only 250 birds remaining in NSW and key threats to this species include predation by dogs and trampling of nests by humans.

SCCG has been lobbying the NSW Government to strengthen protection for both the Little Penguin and Pied Oystercatcher as part of the NSW Government’s proposal for a marine park in Sydney and through initiatives outlined in the Marine Estate Management Strategy

 

SCCG Media Release – 28 November 2018

Concerns Over Water Pollution Impacts from Tunnel Construction:

 

Councillor Lynne Saville, Chair of the Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) has reported that “some Councillors from its member councils are concerned there may be adverse environmental impacts on water quality in the Sydney and Middle Harbours as a result of construction work associated with the Western Harbour Tunnel and Northern Beaches Link Tunnel”. SCCG represents 9 estuarine and coastal councils in Sydney and support our councils to have clean and healthy waterways.

“It is vital that rigorous controls and safeguards are put in place to reduce any impacts upon our beautiful waterways”, says Saville.

Many have already expressed concerns over pollution, dust from construction spoil and contaminants may affect catchments and harbour water quality. As previously reported, “there is risk of adverse effects from proposed dredging on water quality and wildlife in the waters of Middle Harbour, which is likely to affect residents’ ability to use Northbridge Baths“. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-12/western-harbour-toll-construction-to-produce-toxicity-study/9537082

SCCG supports its member Councils to achieve important water quality objectives that enable safe swimming at Sydney’s harbour and coastal beaches. It is currently working with the NSW Government to deliver a coastal management program (CMP) for Sydney Harbour which was recently announced by the Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton MP (https://www.nsw.gov.au/news-and-events/news/nsw-beaches-cleanest-in-a-decade/).

A CMP for Sydney Harbour will set the long-term strategy for the coordinated management of the coast with a focus on achieving the objectives of the Coastal Management Act 2018. These objectives include protecting and enhancing scenic value, biological diversity and ecosystem integrity and resilience.