Living Rivers -Swimmable Urban Rivers

170227StuartKhanFor our first meeting of 2017, 60 members and guests welcomed Associate Professor Stuart Khan from UNSW School of Civil & Environmental Engineering to the podium. Stuart informed us of the current plan to ‘Make Parramatta River Swimmable Again by 2025’ which has been entrusted to the Parramatta River Catchment Group – an amalgam of River Councils, Sydney Water, Dept of Planning and the EPA.

There are currently swimming baths and beaches along the river that had been used historically (and still are) but, being a working river with a legacy of highly polluting industries along its shores, the quality of the water is dubious. Water testing over the years has revealed many and varied toxins suspended in the water column and, more worryingly, present in high densities in the sediment. Among many dirty industries Union Carbide had a large factory producing chemicals used during the Vietnam War and the resultant dioxins have entered the river and accumulated in the food chain. It is recommended that fish caught west of the Harbour Bridge not to be eaten. Industries generally do not discharge into the river anymore and there are heavy fines for doing so. However, some factories now discharge into the sewer and pay Sydney Water via a licence for the privilege.

Treatment of effluent is carried out at the ocean-end of the sewage carriers and that can prove problematic during a rain event. Stormwater enters the sewer and during heavy rain the overburdened pipes release untreated effluent directly into the creeks and river. In conclusion, swimming in the Parramatta River may well be feasible BUT unless a massive upgrade of the sewerage system is implemented then the current discharges of pollutants into the catchment during rain events will regretfully render the river risky for regular recreational revival.

CLICK HERE FOR A Pdf COPY OF THE SLIDE PRESENTATION

Members were reminded that Oatley Swimming baths have a proud and long history, with the existence of the Oatley Swimming Club at Jewfish Bay Baths since 1927 The society will work to ensure that it remains safe in terms of water quality.

 

Oatley Streams Litter Audit -Two & Half Year Report

IMG_4030The results are in from a litter audit of several urban streams in Oatley conducted by the Oatley Streamwatch Team over the period April 2014 to September 2016.

IMG_0050Audit Locations -

  • MDR Mulga Rd Site A -Myles Dunphy Reserve – Creek from sewer viaduct to 50m upstream (towards Mulga Rd)
  • MDR Kogarah Site B – Myles Dunphy Reserve – Stream flowing into MDR from pipe under the railway line draining the Kogarah side of Oatley.
  • Dairy Creek – a 50m section of the creek from the sewer viaduct to 50m upstream

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Results – The top 14 items collected are shown in Table below

Untitled 1 

Preliminary conclusions and recommendations

IMG_0049The item most collected was foam insulation and packaging (whole and remnants), whilst the second most collected item was plastic film remnants.

IMG_4052The foam insulation becomes a problem in the environment as it breaks up into small pieces, right down to the spherical beads ( 2-4mm diameter). At this size it would be easily ingested by aquatic fauna and birds.

Equally the plastic film remnants tear apart, wrap around vegetation and clog streams, drains and gross pollutant traps. They also become partly buried in stream bed and banks and then may be exposed in the next high flow event. They too present a threat to aquatic fauna and birds as well as vegetation due to its smothering effect.

IMG_4581Nine out of the top 14 items were based on a plastic material in one form or another. The foam (or polystyrene) form is increasingly being used for packaging, particularly around consumer items such as electrical appliances, as it is lightweight and helps to reduce transport costs. However, this material is not readily recycled in the general community as it is not allowed to be put into our yellow recycling bins that are regularly collected.

It is understood however that it is capable of being recycled and large quantities are actually processed by specialist companies. It needs to be made easier for residents to at least drop this material off at a conveniently located central depot. The proposed Georges River Council’s St George Community Recycling Facility to be located at Depot Rd Mortdale would be a good location and it is highly recommended that the capacity for recycling polystyrene foam waste be incorporated in this facility.

P1010385In regard to plastic bags and plastic film remnants community recycling of these materials is just starting to catch up. Plastic resulting from many food packaging situations such as bread, frozen vegetables, etc and newspaper and magazine wraps and a range of other items have recently become able to be dropped off at REDcycle bins located at certain Woolworths and Coles supermarkets.

In this regard it is highly recommended that Georges River Council also consider establishing a drop-off capacity for these types of plastics in the proposed new St George Community Recycling Facility at Mortdale.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL REPORT

HEAR OUR NEXT SPEAKER on 27 February 2017  -  Associate Professor Stuart Khan from UNSW Civil Engineering Faculty talking about the concept of turning urban rivers – like Parramatta River – into swimmable recreation areas by arresting contaminants.  Did you know that Oatley Swimming Club at Jewfish Bay Baths, has a long history and enduring existence of as swimming? It will be interesting  what can tell us to do to ensure that it remains safe in terms of water quality?

Recent Leader article highlights that the River health is slipping.

The recent 2015-16 Georges River Combined Council’s  report card revealed a slight decline in the ecological condition of the catchment.

With the Greater Sydney Commission’s draft region plan for Sydney South projecting 23,000 more homes in the next 40 years outlook for the waterways is unfavourable.

Georges River Council Australia Day Volunteer Award 2017

Robin Cropped 2Congratulations to Robin Dickson on her Georges River Council Australia Day Volunteer Award 2017!

OFF nominated Robin Dickson, our Membership Secretary and Welfare Officer, for the GRC Volunteer of the Year Awards 2016 but those awards became incorporated in the Australia Day Awards 2017, so finally on Monday 23rd January, Robin was presented with her Georges River Council Australia Day Volunteer Award by the General Manager Gail Connolly and Administrator John Rayner, and Federal MP David Coleman. OFF representatives Graham Lalchere, Peter de Beuzeville and Liz Cameron were there to congratulate Robin.

Our nomination read:

Mrs Robin Dickson joined Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society Inc (OFF) in 1990 and for the past 23 years has been a very active member of the OFF committee. Initially she was Honorary Secretary (11 years) then, for the last 12 years, Membership Officer, and for 8 years, Welfare Officer; she continues to carry out both these roles. As Secretary she was energetic in pursuing OFF’s objectives and has efficiently resumed that extra role when the current Secretary is absent.

Robin devotes considerable time to OFF business and activities. She processes new memberships, maintains an up-to-date register of members and their contact details, and each month presents a report on membership statistics and changes to the register; she also arranges printing and postage of OFF’s monthly newsletter. She is particularly busy at the end of the year, preparing and posting membership renewal forms to about 300 members.

As Welfare Officer, Robin looks after the wellbeing of our members, some of whom are quite elderly (our Society has been active for 62 years); she visits and phones those who are housebound or unwell, and sends condolences on behalf of OFF.

We have nominated Mrs Robin Dickson because she does far more than simply fulfil her nominated duties. She is a cheerful, warm and caring woman who fosters goodwill in our community and makes everyone feel welcome and valued. These qualities in Robin, along with her gentle persistence, have contributed greatly to the very high retention rate of members in OFF. She knows, and is probably known to, every member of our Society and communicates very easily with children as well as adults. Robin is generous in acknowledging the achievements of other members of OFF – in 2004 she documented the contribution of some of our prominent members and presented it to the Oatley Heritage Group, creating a record for future reference. But she is self-effacing regarding her own contributions.

Robin attends most of the numerous OFF events and outings and is always ready to provide practical assistance – helping on stalls, welcoming newcomers and providing delicious food for catered events. Her excellent handicraft skills were called upon this year when OFF members made 50 artificial nests for a research project on the endangered Regent Honeyeater.

Lime Kiln Bay Awareness Project Report

Lime Kiln Bay (LKB) wetland was constructed in 2000 to improve aesthetics of the area and quality of water draining into Lime Kiln Bay reed beds, mangroves and the bay itself and then into the Georges River. The wetland and surrounding bushland represent a significant community asset. There are increasingly significant environmental impacts on the wetland from urban development that are causing a deterioration in the natural qualities of the area.

A5. Lime Kiln Bay wetlandsProject Objectives

  • Raise awareness in the catchment community of the wetland’s presence, value and significance

  • Increase community understanding and appreciation of wetlands

  • Increase community involvement in wetland monitoring and adjacent bush regeneration programs

  • Reduce pollutants deriving from the catchment (litter, sediment, etc)

Summary of Project Outcomes

Mark Coure 25 Nov (2)Your guide to Lime Kiln Bay Wetland

Ten thousand copies of brochure were printed and at project end date 7,600 had been distributed throughout the community; 4500 via letterboxes of all residences in the catchment and the remainder via schools, public and government offices, libraries etc and via community contact events.

Drain message stencilling:

DRAINS ARE JUST FOR RAIN, KEEP IT CLEAN, DUMP NO WASTE, DRAINS TO LIME KILN BAY WETLAND, DRAINS TO RIVER, and A STYLISED FISH LOGO, were used to spray paint 322 messages onto 129 drains/ sites at high visibility zones throughout the wetland catchment

IMG_1683Guided walks around the wetland:

Four 2-hour guided walks were conducted over a period of four months. These attracted a total of 73 participants.

Website and Facebook pages:

A page on the OFF website was set up for the project and postings were also made to OFF’s Facebook site.

IMG_1021 Community events and other contacts:

A total of 8 public contact events (face-to-face) were held (eg Oatley Lions Festival, Australia Day function etc) where the project was promoted directly to an estimated 470 people. In particular the use of the Australian Museum’s catchment model at the 2015 Oatley Lions festival attracted a lot of attention particularly families with young children.

Project implementation and management:

All the proposed project elements/activities were successfully completed over a 12 month project life. The total project cost of $4,618.17 was just $68.17 over the budget (grant amount) of $4550. OFF will not be seeking any additional funds. Over 600 OFF volunteer hours were contributed to the project.

Conclusion:

Given the small sample sizes of before and after project surveys, there was no conclusive statistically significant, discernible difference between pre and post situations. However, from the number of interactions OFF members had during the course of the project and anecdotal evidence, we believe that the range of strategies employed for awareness raising of the wetland and associated stormwater issues has been effective.  OFF will continue to distribute the brochures, conduct walks and promote the wetland/stormwater message at community events in the normal course of its future activities.”

CLICK HERE FOR FULL REPORT

Yellow Tail Black Cockatoo Research

P1000148 Citizen scientists are being asked to help in a joint project between University of New South Wales, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands.

In recent years there have been significant decline in the populations of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos. Birds have been seen in urban areas feeding on introduced pines and food sources in bush parks and golf courses.

Click here for more information and to register sighting

Pictures here were taken in July and August from a flock of nine seen on an Old Man Banksia (Banksia serrata) on Lloyd Street Oatley.

P1000140 P1000259P1000141 P1000143 P1000161

 

Clean-up Australia Day 2016

On Sunday 6th March, 40 people registered at Jinna Reserve South Peakhurst for the OFF Clean-up activity. Numbers from the Society were boosted by a contingent from Mortdale Girl Guides and their parents, plus some individuals who had seen our notices around the suburb.IMG_3194

Some OFF members took their canoes out onto Lime Kiln Bay to get access to what was lurking in
the mangroves, the rest picked their way around the muddy foreshores of the bay on both the
Peakhurst and Oatley Park side of the inlet.

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IMG_3181 image2

IMG_3173Total rubbish collected was 36 bags, nearly half of it plastic bottles; also 9 car tyres, PVC piping and metal objects. This was an outstanding result,although real success should be measures by the absence of any rubbish in our bushland and waterways. We thank all those who gave up their morning to contribute to this community event.

Report by  Clean up Site Coordinator – Alan Fairley
 

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO ALBUM

 

Dollarbirds in Lime Kiln Bay

Dollarbird -Limekiln BayRecently, David Mercer of Georges River Wildlife photographed  some young dollarbirds leaving a tree hollow in Lime Kiln Bay on 24 January 2016 .

Dollarbirds are a summer migrant. They arrive in Australia in late spring, Sept/October and then mate and build a nest, typically in a tree hollow. They can have up to 4 young. The young leave the nest in mid summer, Dec to January.

The parents continue feeding them for some time before the young become independent.
The birds leave Australia in late summer, March to April, and fly north to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands where they spend the winter.

While they are not a rare bird in Australia, they are not commonly seen in the Sydney area and it is a treat to have them nesting so close to suburbia. It is good reflection on the richness and good habitat that Lime Kiln Bay provides that these birds continue to use the area and successfully raise young.

Report by Graham Fry

DollarBirds Dollar Birds 24 Jan 2016

“Dollar bird and chick. Noisy miners tried to chase off the chick but it stood it’s ground ” – Georges River Wildlife – 24 January 2016.

As part of the Wetland Awareness poject OFF will be conducting free guided walks around the Wetland to show interested people how the qualrity of stormwater runoff is improved and the abundant native plants and wildlife that the wetland supports. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Lime Kiln Bay Wetland Guided Walks

W5.royal spoonbillEver wondered where your stormwater goes and what happens to it?

As part of the Wetland Awareness project OFF will be conducting free guided walks around the Wetland to show interested people how the quality of stormwater runoff is improved and the abundant native plants and wildlife that the wetland supports.

Saturday 20th February, 2016 3pm – 5pm
and
Saturday 19th March 2016 3pm – 5pm

 

Meet at corner Waterfall Rd and Acacia St. Oatley

Wear sturdy shoes and a hat, bring water and sunscreen
CLICK HERE FOR PROJECT FLYER

 

Wetlands Day 2 February

 World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997. Since then government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups have celebrated World Wetlands Day by undertaking actions to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands.  For more see Department of Environment

W8. long-necked tortoiseW5.royal spoonbill

 

Drains are for Rain

The Leader 20 Jan 2016 Its clear drains are for rain so butt out
Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society  is painting messages on drains in the Penshurst, Mortdale and Oatley area to remind people of what drains are for and what their misuse can do to wetlands and river systems. Their current target is the drain system that flows into the Lime Kiln Bay wetland.
 
Leader published the photos and LKB/ drain stencilling story in Wed 20 January 2016 edition..
It is on-line on The Leader website.  There is room on the website version for the public to make comments.