COVID-19 and Ocean Pools

On Wednesday 25 March, SCCG provided the following advice to its member councils, after it seeking advice from 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. Please refer to the NSW Health and NSW Government’s COVID-19 website for updates here.

Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Free Upgrade Submission

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 presentation can be found here and under the ‘Advocacy Submissions’ tab of our website.

‘New Look’ Technical Committee

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 Committee themes 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 with 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.

MEMA : FAQ for Local Government

The Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) has released a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ pamphlet specifically for local governments. The FAQ includes an overview of the Marine Estate Management Strategy as well as providing a guide on how to integrate the strategy with a Coastal Management Program. Finally, a MEMA organisation structure is provided along with key contacts that can assist councils with their CMP integration.

 

The FAQ can be found at the Marine Estate Management Authority website, or alternatively, can be downloaded here.

Climate Change in Estuaries

A multi-disciplinary team led by researchers from UNSW and Macquarie University is releasing the first large-scale summary of how our estuaries – and the 80 per cent of NSW residents living on them – will be impacted by climate change.

The research sets to address the complexity surrounding the assessment of impacts and effects of climate change in estuaries. To do this, researchers have developed a multi-report guide designed for estuarine management, scientists, practitioners and coastal communities.

The guide consists of 8 module reports that cover the relevant climate, ocean and ecosystem science along with best practice frameworks for prioritising climate risks in estuaries. These modules are designed to be read together or independently and are freely available online.

The research was funded under the Coastal Node, an initiative led by the Sydney Institute of Marine Science to improve the knowledge base of impact assessment, risk management and adaptation responses of local communities and councils in the coastal zone.

Further information and links to the modules can be found here.

2020 Funding Guide

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.

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

 

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.