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

 

Get The Site Right – May 2019

The Get the Site Right Campaign raises awareness of the impacts of water pollution /sediments from building sites on the aquatic environment.

During May 2019, the Sydney Coastal Councils Group are partnering with the Parramatta River Catchment Group, Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, Lake Macquarie Council, NSW EPA and Department of Environment and Planning, to run the Get the Site Right Campaign across Sydney and the Central Coast.

Throughout May, developers/builders and DIYers beware – Council and EPA Officers will be out in force inspecting building sites to ensure they comply with sediment and erosion controls. Blitz day is Tuesday 14th May!

Is your site right?

View the Get the Site Right promo video here.

For further information go to ourlivingriver.com.au

Report all pollution incidents by calling the NSW Environment Line on 131 555 or contacting your local council.

Emerging Tools, Techniques and Technologies for Monitoring Urban Wetlands

SOPA is hosting a 2 day workshop on ‘Emerging Tools, Techniques and Technologies for Monitoring Urban Wetlands’ at Bicentennial Park on 30-31 May 2019.

For more information and to register click here.

Data Collection on Flying-Fox Heat Stress

Data is being collected to better understand the impacts of heat-stress on flying-fox species and to build a repository of flying-fox heat stress events.  If you have information on a local flying-fox camp that has been affected by heat-stress (past or present) please complete the Flying-fox heat stress data form developed by Western Sydney University, Melbourne University, CSIRO and Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

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.

 

Aboriginal Land Clean Up and Prevention Program

This is an illegal dumping grant program managed by the NSW EPA. Individual grants of $10,000 to $75,000 are eligible for NSW Local Aboriginal Land Councils as well as local councils, government agencies, non government organisations working in partnership with a Local Aboriginal Land Council.

The program is open until 30 September 2019, or until funds are exhausted which ever occurs first.

For more information click here.

Coastal Management – Delegation visits SCCG

On 4th October 2018, SCCG welcomed a delegation from India; including Suresh Chandra Mahapatra and Prasanta Kumar Panigraphy from the Government of Odisha, and Anuja Sukhla from IPE Global Ltd.  The delegation met with the SCCG to discuss coastal management in NSW, coastal processes, challenges local councils face in finding solutions to sustainable manage the coast and in sharing of costs to undertake works. The delegation shared information about their community, largely fisherman as stakeholders that are dependent on the coast for their livelihood.

The delegation also undertook a site visit to Collaroy/Narrabeen led by Craig Morrison from Northern Beaches Council, which provided firsthand experience of the beach and coastal hazards and management challenges faced by a local council and its community.

2017-18 State of the Beaches Report

The annual State of the Beaches Report 2017/18 has been released by Beachwatch. The State of the Beaches reports on water quality of swimming locations within ocean and harbour beaches across NSW.

According to the NSW News published on 19 October, 85% of the state’s swimming sites have been rated as good or very good for the first time since 2010.

The NSW News provides a summary from the report as follows:

  • 90 per cent of the 97 Sydney region swimming sites tested rated good or very good with improved water quality at seven sites and decreased scores at only four.
  • 78 per cent of the 18 North Coast swimming sites rated good or very good with two downgraded.
  • 84 per cent of the 38 Hunter region swimming sites rated good or very good with improvements at seven sites.
  • 53 per cent of the 32 Central Coast sites rated good or very good – a decline from the previous year due to changes in the monitoring program rather than water quality.
  • 100 per cent of the 21 Illawarra beaches rated good or very good with improved water quality at one beach.
  • 100 per cent of the 35 South Coast region sites rated good or very good with two sites showing decreased water quality.
  • 81% of estuarine swimming sites are listed as goof or very good.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said “while these figures are welcome, they also show there is still work to be done, as according to the report, coastal lakes, lagoons and estuarine swimming spots were adversely affected by heavy rainfall”.

Download a copy of the State of the Beaches Report here.

To read more about the Beachwatch program and to find out about the daily pollution forecasts for your local beach click here.

Emergency Management Health Check

SCCG, supported by the Office of Emergency Management (SEMP) grant, engaged Janellis to develop an online Emergency Management Health Check Tool for NSW Councils.

The Health Check Tool, as well as various templates and resources can be accessed from the Resource Toolkit at www.emhealthcheck.com.au