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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Is Brou Lake toxic?

Dear Beagle Editor, Eurobodalla Councillors and Beagle readers A private property - owned by Warren Buchan adjoins Whittaker Creek is shown below. The creek flows into Brou Lake which is a popular fishing/prawning location on the south coast particularly at this time of year. The creek which is a Sanctuary Zone is part of the Batemans Bay Marine Park (BBMP) . The creek is narrow as it is crossed over on the Princes highway but opens up as it flows into Brou Lake.

Adjoining the southern boundary of the property is the Eurobodalla Shire tip. There has been a long history of concern about this facility and a separately attached is included with this report. In the photo below the land fill tip can be seen in the background. This is the earth wall containing the leachate dam waste and is a short distance from the boundary fence. During heavy rain it seems some waste over flows. The overflow heads to the lowest point which is through the private land, which was previously an aquatic reserve and finally into Whittaker Creek. The dam water in the foreground is no longer used for stock. A past history of still birth cattle, 6 out of 20 resulted in this dam not being used. The photo (on the right hand side above) indicates the water course which is under water in time of heavy rain/flood. Water then spreads out to a number of points across the property some being trapped to form a refuge for nesting swans and other wildlife or flowing directly into Whittaker Creek. In late 2106 water/sediment samples were collected, (refer photo with in this report) just beyond the fallen timber tree. This location is close to Whittaker Creek. These samples which were tested by an authorised private company (ALS), indicate the ANZECC trigger limits for fresh water have been exceeded. Although not excessively high the results are a concern. Recreational fishing is very popular in Brou Lake particularly in December/January when the prawn run is active. I understand Council don't conduct tests outside the tip boundary. They are expecting a report from EPA mid January 2017 and are investigating community concern.

DPI Fisheries inspected the property 2.1.17. In times of heavy rain significant run off occurs—all going in to Whittaker Creek. The low level area of the property is inundated with water which includes any over flow from the leachate dam. Some of the lower areas are very attractive and have become a natural breeding location for black swans and other bird life. The run off also flows into these areas which trap a significant of rain/waste water until the next significant rain/flood. When the rain come this wetland also overflows into Whittaker Creek .

Brou tip is in the foreground of the above photo and located approximately 35m (Google maps) to the private property/fence on its northern boundary. North of the tip is a small dam that can't be used by cattle and north of that is a wider area of water, previously an aquatic reserve. The photo below shows it as a breeding area for wild birds such as pelicans, black swans and wood ducks. This expanse of water then flows into Whittaker Creek by a small drain or over a small dam wall during flood periods.

Above:Significant breeding ground for various bird species. Testing of the water /sediment quality to my knowledge has not been conducted in this area.

The samples recently tested by ASL were taken just beyond the second toppled tree in the above photo. This watercourse overflows in time of significant flood. An extract of the results of the test are below and also included in my attachment. The results of the test indicates that some form of monitoring is needed.

Following the report of a fish kill I inspected the property with the owner on 2.1.17. Significant dead marine life were seen in Whittaker Creek, some on the bank some floating in the creek. Samples have been collected and offered to NSW Fisheries and Eurobodalla Council for scientific investigation if the samples can be tested. A variety of samples were taken which included different fish species, crabs ,various types of sea weed and a sample of sediment.

It has been noticed that numerous seagulls were feeding along the shore of the creek. It would seem they were cleaning up on the free feed of the dead fish—some have been cleaned down to the bone! A significant number of seagulls were seen feeding along the creek bank which has not been noticed previously. Following that a few dead seagulls were seen. On returning the next day they were gone. One assumes taken by foxes which are on the property. Past History: The recent concern relating to the health of Whittaker Creek appears to have a long history. I understand concerned community members had to drop their legal action due to lack of funding. This occurred some years ago. (see attached documents) Summary: Eurobodalla Council and NSW Fisheries are aware of the recent fish kill and are inspecting the site and taking action. Both Agencies have responded quickly which is greatly appreciated. If there are any potential health issues I would expect community notification purely as a precautionary measure to allow sufficient time for detailed investigation/testing to be undertaken. I have been advised the adjacent national park camping area is occupied with tourists who are prawning close to Whittaker Creek. (See Google map photo above) Max Castle Recreational Fishing Advisory Council (RFNSW) Sec—Tuross Head Fishing Club Eurobodalla Council kindly provided (Jan 25th, 2017) The Beagle the following statement:

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes confirmed to the Narooma News on Tuesday that Council has received verbal advice that NSW EPA’s latest round of testing at Brou waste management facility and the creek in the adjacent private property reveals that Brou tip is not the source of contamination concerns.

The EPA is finalising their report and Council understands it will be made public in the coming weeks.

“It is entirely appropriate that the EPA conduct the testing and investigate the concerns that have been raised,” said Clr Innes.

“We have nothing to hide and welcome this level of transparency. Council has been cooperating with the EPA and NSW Fisheries after concerns were raised by an adjoining property owner.

“If pollution is occurring we want to know about it so it can be addressed. The community can be assured that landfill site operations are highly regulated by the EPA and Council conducts regular ground and surface water testing via an independent laboratory, the results of which are provided to the EPA in accordance with the license requirements. This testing is designed to assist in identifying any potential pollution as early as possible.

“While all of the testing to date indicates that Brou tip is not the source of pollution concerns, Council will continue to work with the authorities to identify potential sources of pollution and address the concerns that have been raised. If the Brou waste management site was a source of pollution then Council would act to address the problem.”

Results of Council’s regular testing of the Brou and Surf Beach waste management facilities are publically available on Council’s website at this link

Editors Note: Max has provided, for Beagle readers, 90 plus pages of past letters, Council reports and Council meeting minutes regarding the tip, leachate, concerns and testing. He has recently also provided these documents to Council during his discussions with them. He hopes the documents, being in the public domain, might help to inform the community of what has transpired in the past that is not generally known and that maybe they might also assist the new councillors in understanding why there are ongoing concerns that something just doesn't fit. (You can find the documents Max refers to above here)

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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