Builders, developers and home renovators are more successfully implementing erosion and sediment controls on building sites to protect our local waterways, according to results from the recent Get the Site Right education and compliance campaign.
In June 2020, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and 14 local councils inspected more than 600 sites across Sydney and the Central Coast. Almost three quarters (73%) of the sites inspected were compliant. This is compared to the May 2019 campaign where only 63% of sites inspected were managing their sites adequately.
A total of $189,484 in fines was issued to non-compliant sites. Offences ranged from no controls in place at all and unprotected soil stockpiles in locations where they could be washed away, to minor offences such as ruptured sediment bags and inadequate sweeping of roads and driveways.
See the results below!
Sediment runoff fills our creeks, rivers and harbours with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This leads to poorer water quality, affecting swimming and leisure activities in and around waterways. It also degrades aquatic habitats by smothering marine plants and animals. Sediment runoff can also block stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows and erosion of creeks and riverbanks.
The improvement in compliance rates is encouraging in light of the increase in home renovation and DIY projects stemming from COVID-19 restrictions and introduction of government stimulus packages for builders and renovators.
SCCG Chair, Cr Lindsay Shurey, said that he was pleased by the growing number of builders and developers who were contributing to improving waterway health by preventing sediment runoff from leaving their sites and being washed into stormwater drains and out to our creeks and rivers.
“Reducing sediment and stormwater runoff is a key factor is a key factor in improving water quality in our region,” Cr Shurey said.
“We’re securing resilient and healthy coastal and estuarine environments that supports places for recreation, thriving ecosystems for plants and animals, tourism and business opportunities, and a more liveable city in these times of changing climate and urban heat.”
Now in its fifth year, the Get the Site Right campaign is a joint program between the Cooks River Alliance, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Georges Riverkeeper, Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG), Sydney Coastal Councils Group, local Sydney councils and Lake Macquarie Council.
Members of the public who may be out exercising near our waterways during these times, are encouraged to report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to their local council or 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:
Updated advice has been received from NSW Health regarding ocean pools.
From 15 May, swimming in outdoor pools is permitted where there are no more than 10 people allowed in the pool. Users must maintain physical distancing of 1.5 metres.
Please refer to the NSW Health and NSW Government’s COVID-19 website for updates here.
“The public health order issued 30 March 2020 requires the closure of indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, including tennis courts, ocean pools“.
On Wednesday 25 March, SCCG provided the following advice to its member councils, after consulting with NSW Health on the safe use of ocean pools and baths.
NSW Health stated that at this stage, the risk of contracting COVID-19 through swimming in ocean pools/baths is considered low as the COVID-19 virus is unlikely to survive for long periods in salt water.
However, people using ocean baths are advised to
- stay at home if sick
- stay at home if you have been asked by health authorities to self-isolate
- do not swim if you have had diarrhoea
- shower with soap before swimming
- minimise time spent out of the pool
- comply with social distancing (try to keep 1.5 metres from other people as much as possible)
- comply with protective measures when in the change rooms and outside the pool (clean your hands, cover coughs and sneezes)
- follow the usual health advice to avoiding swimming for least 1 day after rain
- try to attend when the pool is less busy
Councils were also advised that baths should regularly be cleaned.
In this unprecedented time, SCCG is seeking to achieve a regional approach to minimise the potential health risk associated with coastal and estuarine environments.
SCCG would like to thank NSW Health for their ongoing assistance to help protect our members councils and their broader community.
Please note, this advice is current as of Wednesday 25 March. Any further advice on public gathering and social distancing may change in the future.
SCCG was recently invited to prepare a submission on the proposed Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway upgrade. While SCCG recognises the need to provide for additional road network and improvement connectivity to alleviate Sydney’s traffic congestion, the submission raised three primary concerns, it wishes to alleviate. This includes:
- The potential public health risk associated with disturbance of toxic sediments on the harbour floor. SCCG recommended for this to be appropriately managed and monitored.
- Impact on marine biodiversity through the mobilisation of toxic sediment which could effect availability and suitability of food sources for several threatened species. Due to potential affects to intertidal rocky shore habitats, SCCG recommended for these areas be rehabilitated and restored.
- Finally, highlighting the impact on micro bats as several roost sites of the Eastern Bent-wing Bat (a listed threatened species) are located in the project sitting. SCCG would like to see a more detailed threatened species assessment be undertaken as well as ensuring the project complies with the Commonwealth’s National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife which highlights the effect artificial light has on micro bat species.
SCCG welcomes further opportunities to provide comment on the proposed project in the future.
A copy of the submission can be found here and under the ‘Advocacy Submissions’ tab of our website.
As you may know, SCCG are dedicated to delivering quarterly technical committee meetings where council staff get together to exchange information, collaborate on current and emerging needs and develop regional projects and programs directly related to coastal and estuarine management.
In consultation with its members, SCCG has decided to theme our Technical Committees to ensure we can attract specialised staff across all council divisions including strategic planners, environmental officers, engineers and sustainability educators.
Our next Technical Committee meeting on 21 May 2020 will be themed around biodiversity!
For this meeting, SCCG are excited to announce that Commonwealth representatives from the Biodiversity Conservation Division of the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment will be hosting a webinar on the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife, due to be finalised in 2020. This webinar will be made available to all SCCG member council staff.
The Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) Funding Guide is produced and updated annually to assist Member Councils and other Stakeholders in identifying funding opportunities to support the management and protection of Sydney’s coastal and estuarine environments. The Guide provides a wide-ranging and structured list of funding opportunities available to councils and other stakeholders in a single resource. The production of the Funding Guide is part of the SCCG Capacity Building Program that builds the role and capacity of Member Councils and other stakeholders to sustainably manage urban coastal and estuarine environments.
In addition to this Guide, the SCCG will continue to publish upcoming grant opportunities here in its monthly update on the SCCG Website.
A copy of the Funding Guide is available to SCCG Member Councils in the ‘Members Area’ of our website.
The Sand Management Working Group has now been re-established!
The Working Group was previously established in 2007 to provide advice, direction and assistance to advance the application of broad scale regional beach nourishment program(s) in Sydney. In 2019, it was identified that key issues faced by councils in regard to coastal erosion was still of concern, and approval was therefore given to re-establish the Working Group.
Sand Management, in particular beach nourishment, has been recognised as a potential adaptive option to offset the adverse impacts of seal level rise and increasing storm intensity on coastal assets including the retention of public beaches. (Gordon, 2009 ‘The Potential for Offshore Sand Sources to Offset Climate Change Impacts on Sydney’s Beaches’). The potential devastating impacts are evident from the 2016 ‘D Day Storm’ which moved 410,000m3 of sand from the Collaroy-Narrabeen beach alone during this time. Several other councils are also experiencing beach erosion and, in some areas, unwanted beach accretion which also has an impact on private and public assets.
In November 2019, SCCG held it’s first meeting of the Working Group with representatives from member and non-member councils, NSW Coastal Council and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to identify priority issues, workshop solutions and commit to regular meetings. A presentation was also given by Angus Gordon OAM, NSW Coastal Council, highlighting potential sources of sand, benefits and costs of beach nourishment works and a possible way forward for program implementation.
A copy of the outcomes report of this meeting and presentation given by Angus Gordon OAM is available for member councils in the ‘members area’ of the SCCG website.
Sydney Coastal Councils Group is proud to present the SCCG Strategic Plan 2019-2019. This document consists of a new vision and sets our six goals which set to provide value for members and enhance and protect the coastal and estuarine environment.
This Strategic Plan was developed to align with key strategic documents developed by our member Councils and key stakeholders. The Plan seeks to align with relevant legislation, policies and agreements including the Greater Sydney Commission’s Metropolis of Three Cities and District Plans; Coastal Management Act; Marine Estate Management Act and Australia’s obligations relating to biodiversity. The Plan also includes an evaluation of effectiveness and timely delivery of its strategies in alignment with local government’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework.
SCCG is confident in the suitably of this document to provide benefit to all key stakeholders and to appropriately manage the coastal and estuarine environment under the unprecedented changes set to occur in our coastal community and government services over the next decade.
The SCCG Strategic Plan 2019-2029 can be found here.
Summer is finally here and it’s time to get outside and spend time on the coast!
Join in the fun this summer with the 2020 Summerama program.
Discover our marine and coastal environments by participating in the Summerama Activities run throughout January 2020. Summerama is a fun day out for individuals, friends and families with activities on offer from kayaking to snorkelling tours to rock pool rambles to walks n’ talks.
Check out the 2020 Calendar to find your closest Summerama Event!
Explore the beautiful coastline of Sydney!
As part of the Walking Coastal Sydney Project, a series of maps were produced to provide for a continuous walking track from Pittwater in the north to Sutherland in the south which link with existing coastal walks. These maps have recently been updated and can now be downloaded to your smart phone or tablet.
The aim of the Walking Coastal Sydney project is to promote public access to, and enhance the appreciation and recreational enjoyment of Sydney’s coastline and estuaries for the people of Sydney and visitors to the city. Walking Coastal Sydney was a partnership project between the Sydney Coastal Councils Group, the Walking Volunteers Inc. and Department of Planning, with funding received through the Sharing Sydney Harbour Access Program.
The maps and detailed download instructions can be found here under the ‘Walking Coastal Sydney’ tab.