Menu

Sand movement clogging creek at Pottsville

Sand movement means the beaches are getting wider. Photo supplied.

The water quality in Pottsville’s Mooball Creek is being monitored daily at multiple sites for dissolved oxygen, salinity and pH, and near the bridge, three times per week for bacteria and algae, owing to the creek mouth at Pottsville being completely closed by sand.

With the vast amount of sand on beaches at the moment, the beach has grown wider than the entrance walls and the whole lower estuary is full of sand.

Council continues to monitor sand movement and conditions in the creek, and water quality tests show water is still safe for swimming and health of aquatic life.

These daily tests have shown water in the lower estuary is consistently meeting water quality objectives for the protection of aquatic ecosystems and swimmer health.

Acting Director Community and Natural Resources, Jane Lofthouse, said the latest bacteria monitoring result is from Tuesday and is well within guidelines for safe swimming. ‘The creek is greener than usual, which is due to the growth of free floating single cell algae (phyto-plankton),’ said Ms Lofthouse. ‘The algae has also been assessed and is not a health risk. Dissolved oxygen and pH levels are well within guidelines for protection of aquatic ecosystems.’

Council is progressing relevant State Government permits to open the creek mouth so work can be undertaken if water quality monitoring confirms there is a problem, or suggests there are likely to be problems.

‘We are focused on ensuring any removal of the bar is effective in restoring tidal flushing, not just draining the creek, she said.

Ms Lofthouse says that community members considering digging a channel to attempt to open up the creek, are advised that NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries supports minimal interference with creek mouth sand barriers and advocates natural processes being allowed to operate to the greatest extent possible. ‘If not done properly and under the right conditions, there is a real possibility opening up the creek with machinery or by hand digging could make the problem worse.

This is because good quality water drained out of the lower estuary would be replaced by lower quality water presently sitting in the upper estuary and cane drains of Wooyung. This water is lower in dissolved oxygen and has a lower pH, and potentially higher bacteria levels.’

The maximum penalty for unauthorised works to open a closed estuary is $220,000 for Councils and $110,000 for individuals.

Water levels within the creek have now risen and continue to rise slightly due to overnight rain.

The need to put machinery onto the beach to undertake an artificial opening will be reassessed on Monday 15 October.

UPDATE 5.25pm

Avoid swimming in Mooball Creek at Pottsville
Bacteria levels elevated by rain and worsened by blocked creek 

Council is recommending against swimming in Mooball Creek at Pottsville for the time being following recent and expected rain.

Council has been taking water samples from the creek in recent days to monitor bacteria levels while the creek mouth is blocked by sand.

Test results from one sample received today have revealed an elevated level of bacteria. Samples taken throughout the week had shown good to fair levels of bacteria.

Council’s Acting Director Community and Natural Resources, Jane Lofthouse, said while elevated bacteria levels didn’t necessarily indicate poor ecosystem health, swimming and other activities where water could enter the ears, eyes, nose, mouth and broken skin were best avoided.

‘Bacteria always increases in our coastal creeks after heavy rain due to urban and rural runoff, so it’s never advisable to swim at these times,’ said Ms Lofthouse. ‘But certainly given the lack of tidal flow in Mooball Creek, there’s no doubt the blockage has exacerbated the situation.

‘What’s happened today is that one water sample from one location has shown a result which is trending towards poor.

‘We need confirmation from a second sample to confirm the result but we won’t get that until tomorrow or Sunday, as the sample needs time to incubate. In the meantime, it’s safest not to swim in the creek, which is generally the case after rain.’

Council will continue to monitor water quality in Mooball Creek over the weekend and throughout next week and will advise when bacteria counts have returned to safe levels

At the same time, Council is progressing relevant State Government permits to open the creek mouth so work can be undertaken if required.

The need to put machinery onto the beach to undertake an artificial opening of the creek mouth will be reassessed on Monday 15 October.


One response to “Sand movement clogging creek at Pottsville”

  1. Peter Thompson says:

    Surely the best time to open the creek is now as the amount of water after the rain is high so it should open easier

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsor Vast Furniture & Homewares Ballina.