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March 1999

Editorial - Plan of Management Audit

George Cotis Member, Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee

A plan of management is meaningless if it is allowed to be an end in itself. It is not good enough for politicians, bureaucrats or committees to produce plans as icons of achievement. The Port Hacking Plan of Management (PoM) (initiated in 1984) was adopted by Sutherland Shire Council in 1993. As part of its commitment to the plan, Council appointed the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee.

George Cotis, one of the PoM's initiators and founding member of the Advisory Committee has conducted, on behalf of the Committee, an audit on the PoM. The results are not good. He writes below . . .

An audit of the Port Hacking Plan of Management (PoM) was completed in October, 1998. The audit was to take stock of what had been achieved, to assess relevance of the plan and for setting priorities for Sutherland Shire Council's proposed River Keeper appointment.

Although the Chairman of the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee (PHPAC) was given the audit results in early December, 1998, I have not yet heard what he intends to do with the results. He has the prerogative to do nothing. My hope is that he quickly convenes the PHPAC in order to set a course of action arising from the audit.

Relevance of the PoM

Re-examination of the aims and objectives of the plan confirms their continued and contemporary relevance. The PoM has been enhanced by two amendments: The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which sets the parameters for dredging in Port Hacking; and the two documents: "Enjoyment for today, Preservation for Tomorrow" and "Draft Principles for Managing Sediment in Port Hacking". In addition, the Hacking River Community Contract (reported in Protectorate 18, December 1998) binds all parties to the implementation of the PoM.

The PoM implementation body, the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee has been in apparent winding down mode for several years. The Committee has been by-passed, ignored, and generally left to waste away. This audit may complete that process.

Commitment to the PoM from authorities with jurisdiction in the Port has varied but is, in general, disappointing, and in some cases, disgraceful. Within Council itself, communication of the existence of the PoM and coordination between units to deliver the outcomes has been poor for some time.

Audit Results

Integrated Management

The PoM introduced the concept of managing the totality: the inextricable relationships between the various elements or components. Fishing, harvesting, boating impacts, habitat threats, terrestrial inputs to the waterway, and vegetation loss are critical issues. The aims and objectives set preservationist principles into the actions arising from the plan. Threats exist to the health of natural systems within Port Hacking. The threats are larger now than when the PoM was first adopted because of growth in almost all areas that exert pressures.

Some policy decisions have been made that advance preservation. However, the overriding limitation is knowledge and the absence of monitoring programs. There is also little or no support to pursue studies with the view to formalising protection of the biological health of the Port. Many of the sections of the management plan depend on the generation of knowledge to enable understanding of processes and impacts which allow good planning and/or determination whether or not outcomes are achieved.

Perhaps the most demanding argument for study is the concept of "sustainability". Sustainability means nothing if bench marks are not established and the effects of actions understood. Sustainability also depends on defining clearly the status to be maintained.

Against the lack of initiative to gain knowledge, there is also an absence of the application of the "precautionary principle" - that is, if there is doubt about possible adverse effects the activity does not go ahead (rather than the all too prevalent, if there is doubt, go ahead). Lack of knowledge and no precautionary principle equate to a potent threat to the ecological integrity of Port Hacking.

Waterfront and Foreshore Development

The risks posed to the Shire's waters from the foreshore remain a disturbing blindspot in the view of authorities. The relationships between the planning intentions of Council, development outcomes and the CALM Foreshore Assessment is lost, and that loss is visible in Port Hacking. Poor sediment control during construction, little retention of natural topography or indigenous vegetation, and the modification of natural form waters edge (including the explosion of permissive occupancies) all raise serious questions about Council's effectiveness.

Especially missing is knowledge, diligence and commitment of builders/owners/developers to protecting the foreshores. "Exploit to the maximum" appears to be the dictum. A documented visual survey of the foreshore conducted by the Committee some years ago was to provide a benchmark. It serves mostly as a dust trap on Council bookshelves. We would be well served to revisit the topic.

The present style and level of foreshore development is unsustainable if the intention is to preserve the intrinsic features of the foreshore and waterfront zones.

Recreational Demands

Competition for recreational opportunities (especially natural resources) has grown. Port Hacking provides attractive resources for a huge user catchment. Local residents and day visitors share common pursuits in some respects, and different in others. Surveys have tended to focus on immediate residential areas and attitude focussed. This approach is inadequate for forward planning to meet recreational demands.

Boating continues to be large in the public focus and is a large growth part of recreation. We suspect for example that, whatever the changes may be in boat numbers in absolute terms, average sizes have increased since the drafting of the PoM. Recreational pursuits and demands generally have increased in that time.

Larger boating attracts the most dollar attention even though boating users constitute a minority of recreationalists. Port Hacking has been shoaled for thousands of years. Amazingly, people continue to buy boats that are inappropriate for a shoaled waterway, and at the same time have expectations that navigation at all tides will be provided for these vessels on Port Hacking. Supporting infrastructure for a growing population of increasingly larger craft is likely to impose an ever greater burden on the broader community. There is a glaring unsustainability (especially in economic terms) in the pursuit of this mentality as it now persists.

One of the problems created by the demands of large boating is that the needs, difficulties and expectations of the more low-key users are easily overlooked, despite the numerical prominence of them. The population of these users are local and day visitors alike.

Very little has been learned in recent years about user capacities. Management and planning remain the victims of poor knowledge through lack of professional studies. Dealing with the issue of PWCs on Port Hacking provides a good example. These craft are a prominent development since the drafting of the Plan and have created public attention, as well as user conflicts, but there has been no systematic analysis of the problems or possible solutions.

Shoaling and Navigation

The shoaling analysis within the PoM describes the origins and physical characteristics of the modern estuary. Impediments to navigation for some vessels within Port Hacking is examined in the context of the known limitations to intervention given the ephemeral nature of sediment movement.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed to in 1995 sets the priorities for navigation and the management of the issue within the wider recreational and environmental context.

The PoM, and the MOU, specify that dredging must be considered in the context of the totality of the Plan and each round must be within the context of the long term plan.

Therefore, each round of dredging must be an incremental step in achieving the overall plan. Meeting demands for dredging in the marine delta, however, continues on an ad hoc basis. This applies to the timing, methodology of disposal of material and peripheral considerations. This is unsatisfactory. The pressures for dredging are more reflective of the increasing population of craft which are inappropriate for a shoaled waterway than any natural condition of the estuary.

Enforcement

Enforcement deficiencies exist everywhere, building sediment control, rubbish control, foreshore development, etc. The consequences are visible on a daily basis. Enforcement appears lacking in some respects because of resource deficiencies. There needs to be confidence in the community that resources are being appropriately prioritised. Enforcement appears deficient also because of lack of knowledge and/or procedural breakdowns, or other pressures.

Policies are a waste of time if no outcomes are produced. Enforcement is one component in achieving outcomes in many critical areas.

Conclusion

The audit shows serious shortcomings in implementation which call now, more than ever, for the application of the Precautionary Principle. One only has to see the response of the boating community to seagrass preservation laws, and the nature, scope and consequences of foreshore development to get some idea of the momentum of unsustainable practices.

Of further concern is the prioritising of actions. The speed with which some issues are addressed highlights with the inexplicable inaction on others. In terms of the Port Hacking which future generations ought to inherit, it is hard to see how current priorities are set. The audit could not provide the answer to this question.

The comments in the audit about the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee signify, I think, that the Committee is dead as a management advisory body. At best it is becoming a boating lobby, or the River Keeper's supervisor. We should all care very much about this loss. The potential for the Committee at inception was high. It's erosion to current ineffectiveness is disappointing to say the least.

Anyone wishing to know the status of a particular action and the responses from the actioning body, should contact councillor Andrew Hodson, Chairman of the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee to gain access to the Audit. I can't see why he would refuse. After all the PoM should be public knowledge, as are many of the unaddressed problems of Port Hacking.

About the Port Hacking Plan of Management

The Plan's aims are to:
  1. Preserve the ecological and aesthetic values of Port Hacking and its catchment

  2. Provide for maximum opportunities for beneficial recreational and residential use of the Port and its surrounds, within the constraints of sustainable use

  3. Provide a basis for the co-ordinated management of the entire Port and its catchment to achieve those ends

The Plan is a series of flow charts which highlight five main issues:
  1. Catchment

  2. Foreshores

  3. Aquatic ecosystems

  4. Waterways

  5. Impact minimisation and rehabilitation

The flow charts follow on from assessment and conclusions in each section of the document, stating objectives, policies, actions, programs and organisation's responsible for the implementation of the actions.

The objectives describe the specific result that is to be achieved through a number of actions. The policies are a guide to the type of actions that will be taken and usually these set limits on the actions. The actions are specific but some are short terms, some medium terms and some are long terms. Consequently, the actions are linked to a program, to state the time constraints on implementation. Finally, the flow chart connects the programs to the organisation (or organisations) responsible for each action.

Shirewatch - Independants for Sutherland Shire Council

Phil Parsonage

The good news for the Port is that the channel dredging was completed successfully ahead of schedule, with a minimum of noise and obstruction to boating. The operation was very professional and well managed by our Shire Council. The dredged channels are deep and direct, narrow but adequate in all cases. We will see whether their alignment with the main current flows will keep them clear by natural scouring, as many hope.
Dredge at work. Photo: Danielle Kluth
The dumping of the Lilli Pilli sand into the deep holes is still a contested point, so it was placed on the prograding fronts, apparently well clear of the rock bottoms in the area. Hopefully the dumping of the bulk of the sand off the beaches in Cronulla will assist them and is a vast improvement on the previous creation of a sand island off Bundeena which washed back into the channels over about one year.

Alteration of the channel markers was prompt and ongoing and all involved deserve congratulations. The recent very low tides reaching their level and the rapid clearing of the Port after the recent heavy rain being a first good sign of the physical result of an improved channel.
Each year the Marine Education Society of Australia (MESA) stages Seaweek. The dates for Seaweek this year are Sunday 21st of March through to Saturday the 27th of March. In 1999 Seaweek will focus on marine biodiversity.

Across Australia individuals, groups and organisations who are concerned about the marine environment will organise events to promote the sea and its associated waterways.

Seaweek's purpose is to encourage positive attitudes and behaviours towards our marine environment through education. To support Seaweek MESA produces an education kit, the Seaweek Kit, which is designed for use in schools. The Kit has information and activities appropriate for use with Primary and Secondary students.

For information on Seaweek contact John Atkins at the Botany Bay Field Studies Centre on (02) 9668 8431. For teachers, the Field Studies Centre will be conducting Marine Studies activities during Seaweek and at other times during the year. The Field Studies Centre can also order the Seaweek Kit for interested schools, in 1998 the kit cost $10.00 and represented great value!

Website: http://edx1.Educ.monash.edu.au/peninsula/seaweek/intro.htm

Stop Press

More Moorings

Waterways Authority have plans to install over 20 moorings at Gunyah and a "large number of" moorings at Jibbon Beach - both on the southern shores of Port Hacking. Waterways also recently "dropped" new moorings in South West Arm, much to the chagrin of the NPWS. No doubt this will be good news for boats requiring anchorage. It will probably be less good news for swimmers, snorkellers, surfski riders, canoeists, and the like who will need to negotiate ever increasing numbers of boats. It will also not be good news for the seagrass beds or marine life who will feel the increased pressure.
Boats at Jibbon Beach, Bundeena

Estuary Management Studies

In November 1998, Sutherland Shire Council resolved to accept financial assistance from the Department of Land and Water Conservation to undertake estuary processes studies for Gymea Bay and Gunnamatta Bay. The Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee will be overseeing the development of Plans of Management for the Bays. The purpose of the plans being to address siltation problems at the heads of the Bays. When the studies underlying these plans have been completed, committees will be formed which will enable the public consultative process necessary for completion of these projects.

Fisheries Information Day

NSW Fisheries gave about 1000 visitors an interesting look into their range and quality of work at their Information Day on 6 February 1999. On display were a range of fishing nets, informative posters about breeding cycles of sea creatures, videos which showed the type of work - both research and enforcement - carried out by Fisheries, types of fish to be found in the region, aquariums, etc. Fisheries staff were on hand at all booths to talk about their work and to answer questions - an opportunity eagerly taken up by many members of the public.

Those of us wandering past the earnest conversations overheard tales of "the longest bloodworms every seen!", the "hugest fish ever landed", and other stories befitting fisherfolk. It was heartening to note, also, the emphasis being placed on research to find ways of controlling overfishing, overharvesting, rubbish, seagrass protection, etc. - with some practical advice and methods to deal with current problems.

If you need information about the dos and don'ts of Fishing in Port Hacking, call NSW Fishers Client Services on 02 95667888. Report illegal fishing to your local Fisheries Office or ring Fishermans Watch 1800 043 536. If you're into surfing the net (electronic net!), here's the address: www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au

Results of Building Site Inspections

Towards the end of last year fifty building sites in the catchment were inspected to assess their water and soil management practices. Unfortunately, in spite of much publicity on this issue in the past couple of years, inspectors still found most sites were unsatisfactorily managed. About 50% of sites needed guidance with their practices, about 20% of sites were very poorly managed. A number of builders were given warning notices and one was fined.

Good news for Gunnamatta Bay

A source of sewage contamination into the Tonkin Park Gross Pollutant Trap (GPT) has been traced to leaks from sewer lines at Kurnell Road. The leaking joints have been fixed and last tests (September /October 1998) of the GPT showed an encouraging drop in contamination - from 13,000 to 2.6 million coliform units (February 1996 results) to 20 to 360 coliform units. Sutherland Council will continue to monitor the site but will now focus its efforts on the next most polluted stormwater drain close to the swimming baths in Gunnamatta Bay.

Good news for the Royal

Many thousands of volunteer hours have made it possible to show that a large number of fauna species have undergone significant population increases in Royal National Park since the bushfires.

Since 1996: swamp rat numbers are up by 750%; bush rats and common dunnarts, up 400%; eastern pygmy possums and new holland mouse, up 25%.

The volunteers will soon be provided electronic help in their efforts to record and track biodiversity data. A new 400Mhz computer, running a high powered Geographic Information System (GIS) called ArcView will be available. With the computer's help, those involved with the biodiversity surveys will be able to create large, colourful, easy to read maps that compare up-to-the minute biodiversity survey data with fire history, vegetation, topography, pest species and other environmental attributes. It will be possible to map and identify key zones for protection and pest control, setting fire and pest management regimes that can achieve the dual goals of maintaining biodiversity and protecting human life and property.

River Keeper

Sutherland Shire Council and Waterways Authority of NSW are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding which will guide the job of the Port Hacking River Keeper. Sutherland Council has been wooed into an arrangement with Waterways Authority because of resources the River Keeper will obtain if he (or she) is employed by Waterways - better boat and such. Guiding the River Keeper's operations throughout the year will be a works program agreed to by the two authorities. The job description is still not ready but should be soon.
The River Keeper will be discussed at the next Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee when it meets later this month. Hopefully, the Memorandum of Understanding struck between the Sutherland Council and Waterways Authority has better cooperative success than has the Memorandum of Understanding between boating and environment groups over environmental issues and big boat access.

Shiprock... What a Dive!

Lesley Hillyer - Shiprock Dive

Located at the foot of a steep path from Shiprock Road, Lilli Pilli, is one of the best dive sites in New South Wales. "Shiprock", so named because of the enormous rock that sits up out of the water looking just like the bow of a ship, is a wall dive, which means there is a steep wall which runs for some distance along the channel. As a result of the sandbar opposite, the channel of water is quite narrow and fast running - a unique combination providing an ideal environment for soft-coral growth, fish, invertebrates, etc. (All photos by Mel Newing)
Shelled sea slug
Fortunately, Shiprock was declared a marine reserve some years ago. This means the only things you can leave at Shiprock are bubbles, and the only things you can take are memories. And there are lots of memories. The reserve abounds with thriving bream, yellowtail catfish, leatherjacket, morwong, and oldwives. Cuttlefish, octopus, lots of different species of nudibranchs, moray, serpent and conger eels are also easy to find.

In the summer, there are lots of little tropical banner and damsel fish, darting back and forth in the warm water. Less frequent are the common and dwarf lionfish hanging under the ledges. These fish have managed to hold on through the cold winter waters over the last couple of years, and there are presently a number of juveniles, proving that they have started to breed here. Occasionally we are visited by an eastern blue devilfish, truly one of the most beautiful fish around, or a well-camouflaged wobbegong shark.
Nudibranch
Boxfish, cowfish and eastern talmas hang around the bommies, and blue swimmer crabs are all over the sand. We usually see huge swarms of schooling stripey catfish close to the exit near the triangular cave. Less conspicuous, but there for the keen eye, are seahorses, decorator crabs, pipefish and flutefish. Out in the deeper hole, lurk several angler fish of different colours. Sea squirts, sea pens and ascidians are everywhere, and the spongelife and soft coral growth is superb. You really can see more at Shiprock in one dive than you might see in months elsewhere.
Cuttlefish eating fortescue
Shiprock is best dived right on the high tide, when the visibility is best and the strong current ceases to be a problem. Divers should also remember that Shiprock is in a very busy boating channel, and surfacing anywhere but in the shallows is definitely not a good idea!
Seahorse Eastern blue devil fish
When you dive at Shiprock, you start by dropping under water and swimming out across a shallow ledge until it drops away quite suddenly to about 15 metres. Continuing south, with the wall on your right, you come across a bubble cave, a small cave with air trapped in it. Two divers can enter the cave, lift their heads out of the water and have a chat, all at 15 metres! From here, you continue along the wall until it turns to the west and becomes shallower then return along the wall somewhat higher up. Shiprock is an excellent night dive, but you must be careful to dive at the right time.

Shiprock is a unique and beautiful area. We are fortunate to have it as a marine reserve. We must, however, be vigilant to ensure its continued viability. This includes protecting it from stormwater runoff, and general damage caused by boat anchors and, indeed, divers. It is unfortunate that the recent dredging activity has deposited sand all over everything. However the fast running tidal activity will clean this up much more quickly than might ordinarily be expected.
Bream
Recently, Shiprock Dive and the Hacking River Catchment Committee successfully obtained a Coastcare grant to construct a stairway and handrail, clean up and revegetate the area and provide adequate signs both at street and water level. These works will greatly assist access to the area and its preservation.
Frogfish Serpent eel
Lionfish Rock cod

Councils Increace in Environmental Spending

PHPS has been heartened to hear Sutherland Shire Council's publicity of increases in environmental spending in 1998/99 of more than 200%. We asked Councillor Blight how the 200% increase was derived. He noted that he, too, would be interested in knowing the breakdown and obtained the following information.

It would seem that you need to be selective in what and when you count in the increased environmental spending.
1998/99
1997/98
1996/97
1995/96
1994/95
1994 half yr
1993
Urban Drainage Construction $894,700 predominantly Gross polluntant traps and golf course drainage improvements $330,670 $1,152,143* $456,153 $294,184 $78,331 $313,942
Riverkeeper Program $60,000 budgeted for but program not yet underway 0 0 0 0 0 0
Street Trees $50,000 0 $27,763 $76,637 $63,045 $53,919 $217,268**
Beachfront/Foreshore Improvements $500,000 a major component being foreshore work on the eroded Cronulla beaches and parks 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bushcare expenditure $299,990 $297,561 $235,312 $339,527 $330,027 $127,819 0
Drainage Assets Identification (assessment and audit of drainage works and needs) $250,000 0 0 0 0 0 0
Deepwater Estates Demolition $50,000 demolition of a building on public open space 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bath and Ethel Road Pollution Control $150,000 works at a council depot to bring it up to standard for workers compensation purposes 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total $2,254,690 $628,231 $1,415,218 $872,317 $687,256 $260,069 $531,210
* 1996/97 Drainage Construction included expenditure of $616,394 on a single job, namely, Cronulla golf course drainage. ** Street Tree program in 1993 included $170,551 of Sec, 94 and grant funded works.

Bathing in Herbicide (Mis)use

A spate of telephone calls and letters to PHPS questioning the safe and effective use of herbicides by Sutherland Shire Council caused us to inquire about Council's administration and controls of these chemicals. After much prodding, Council finally sent a letter to PHPS that basically stated "don't you worry about that".

Naturally PHPS became worried. More prodding revealed that at the time, Sutherland Council had no structured training for the use of herbicides by its workers in the Shire, no systematic check on the amounts of herbicide being used in the Shire, and no systematic method of gauging the effectiveness of herbicide use in the Shire. Perhaps Council administration might have been able to tell us how many (mega?) litres of herbicide were being sprayed in the Shire, but they didn't.

With the help of the Hacking River Catchment Committee (HRCMC), a number of groups (including representatives from Sutherland Shire Council, Wollongong Council, NPWS, Sydney Water, and PHPS) met to discuss the issue of herbicide use and control by public authorities in the region. Everyone at the meeting agreed that overuse and abuse of herbicides was a problem. Two of the most significant issues were the worry of chemicals contaminating the environment, and problems caused when herbicides kill all plants in an area exposing soils which are then washed into waterways or invaded by weeds that then require even more maintenance.

The representative from Sydney Water outlined innovative proposals to reduce the amount of herbicides used on lands under its management, including planting of special grasses. The representative from Wollongong Council revealed to the assembled impressive training requirements and procedures he required, but admitted that these were only used by employees under his control and he suspected other sections of Wollongong Council might be more relaxed in their control of chemical use.

Those from Sutherland Shire Council were willing enough to look at increasing responsible use of herbicides but believed their greatest hurdle would be the low priority such activities would be given by those with the final say.

Rumours are that some action has been taken - particularly in relation to training of users. A follow-up meeting to review progress was to be held in August 1998 but it didn't happen. PHPS is starting another round of inquiries...

Sutherland Shire Council aren't the only people being pressured into better regulating pesticide use. The HRCMC sent a submission to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in 1997 in response to the Government's Discussion paper on Improving Pesticide Management in NSW. More than twelve months later, the EPA has apparently decided the issue is "extremely complex" and has referred it to the Standing Committee on State Development "to allow broad and thorough consideration of the issues".

No doubt the grindingly slow political/bureaucratic processes will reveal there is a problem. Let's hope that the solutions suggested have teeth and will not result in just another set of nice-sounding regulations that no one polices.

Port Hacking - The Battle for Survival

We asked MPs with electorates in the Hacking Catchment (Lorna Stone, Ron Phillips, Malcolm Kerr and Ian McManus) if, prior to the coming State election, they would like to write about policies and achievements for the region. We were particularly interested in:
  • policing of the waterways

  • jurisdictional responsibilities concerning Port Hacking

  • issues concerning stormwater, wastewater, sewage

  • dredging

Following is Malcolm Kerr's response:
In my fourteen years as Member for Cronulla, one of the most rewarding and challenging issues has been the management and protection of Port Hacking.

As our population grows with its resultant environmental and recreational demands, the complexity of the threats facing Port Hacking require expert intervention and management.

Sutherland Council's surveys of residents conclude that the protection of the environment has utmost priority yet, ironically, it is the human population that poses the greatest threat to the Port's future with its contribution to stormwater pollution and use of high powered watercraft.

The issue of Personal Watercraft (PWC) - (I was reprimanded for calling them jetskis) - was a highly charged issue from both sides of the argument. Regular readers of the Protectorate would be aware of concerns raised of destruction of seagrass beds and danger to swimmers. I subsequently raised this matter in Parliament calling for increased resources to enable officers to crack down on irresponsible PWC users. The Minister responded to community concern enforcing a PWC ban at Darook Park Beach and introducing new regulations to control hooliganism on the water.

Port Hacking is currently undergoing another round of navigational dredging with spoil being dumped off Cronulla beaches to replenish the beaches. Since dredging of shoals began in 1881 a permanent solution for sustainable navigational channels has been sought. Paradoxically, the Port's shoals have protected it from high recreation use and overdevelopment of the foreshore.

Public safety by maintenance of navigational channels must be protected. However, as I have previously publicly stated, I am committed to a wholistic approach to Port Hacking rather than ad hoc management and funding by a plethora of government authorities. The Memorandum of Understanding and Port Hacking Plan of Management are now several years old. However, in my view the State Government should abide by the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding.

I was recently appalled by reports that waste disposal facilities at Cronulla Marina are grossly under utilised. This of course means that Port Hacking is becoming a giant toilet for those who are too lazy or irresponsible to correctly dispose of their own sewage.

In Gunnamatta Bay, recent reports stated that pollution problems in the Bay were out of control. The Harbourwatch Program which monitors Gunnamatta Bay reported that the Bay had the lowest compliance rate (0%) for enterococci, a reliable bacterial indicator used to determine the extent of faecal contamination.

Dryweather pollution is at dangerous levels, an indication that sewage is either connected to or seeping into storm water channels. There are at least three sources of pollution in Gunnamatta Bay: storm water outlets, sewage overflows and discharges from watercraft.

These are the responsibility of different authorities, all of whom are reluctant to accept responsibility for sewage pollution when the source may be coming from somewhere else.

Gunnamatta Bay has complex problems and no single body has the necessary resources, skills or abilities to manage the area on its own. It needs a total catchment management structure if the sources of its pollution problems are to be identified and overcome.

Something is seriously wrong when Gunnamatta Bay has worse water quality than Sydney Harbour sites.

While dredging of Port Hacking is complete, the same cannot be said for the upgrading of Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). While many announcements have been made, FOUR YEARS ON, no actual work has commenced and no budget allocation has been made for the ninety million odd dollars the works will cost. As sewerage of Bundeena and Maianbar cannot proceed until the Cronulla Plant is completed, this represents many more years of polluted waters.

The Port Hacking Protection Society has brought to my attention the proposal by Sydney Water to have the EPA downgrade the classification of Port Hacking from Pristine (Class P) to a lower grade in order that they be licensed for sewer overflows from a proposed new treatment plant in the upper catchment. The technology and infrastructure exists for sewage overflows to be eliminated from modern treatment schemes. Sewage overflows in the Cronulla electorate are already causing enough problems. We should be looking at eliminating them and not introducing more.

Shire MPs led the fight against development at Helensburgh and will fight again any such proposal which threatens our waterways. Violations of fish size and bag limits are a growing problem along the New South Wales coast including Port Hacking. The message needs to be made loud and clear to those responsible that this type of environmental pillage will not be tolerated. As with the PWC issue, this problem is not self-correcting and can only be addressed when adequate resources are applied to education and reinforcement of regulations.

Port Hacking must be approached with sensitivity and the utmost regard. Its users are also its caretakers. It is the responsibility of us all to be ever vigilant and work together to protect our waterways from ourselves.

Littoral Rainforest

Dick Rogers - Sutherland Shire Council Bushcare

In December 1998 the NSW Scientific Committee made a final determination to list the Sutherland Shire Littoral Rainforest as an ENDANGERED ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITY on part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
Littoral rainforest is a closed canopy forest characterised by mesophyll (leaves with features adapted to high water processing) trees, shrubs and vines. It is distinct both structurally and floristically from open sclerophyll forests in the Shire. The rain forest occurs on soils derived from Hawkesbury sandstone and on dune sands. Stands are small and isolated from one another, occurring on private land, public reserves managed by Council, and in Royal National Park and Towra Point Nature Reserve. These stands of littoral rainforest are now of limited occurrence in the Sydney region.

The Sutherland Shire Littoral rainforest differs floristically and structurally from that on the northern beaches of Sydney. The NSW Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Sutherland Shire Littoral Rainforest is likely to become extinct in nature unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival cease to operate. This assessment causes the forests to meet the criteria for listing as Endangered Ecological Community (part 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995)

Five Bushcare Groups combined together to apply for funding from Natural Heritage Trust 1998-1999 for the management of littoral rainforest vegetation in Hacking River Catchment. The application was successful but unfortunately it was only for a third of the amount requested - $15,320.00 was approved. The project will address vegetation management and biodiversity in an integrated way by conserving and protecting Littoral Rainforest remnants in five sites on the foreshores of Port Hacking including Lilli Pilli Point Reserve, Grays Point, Burraneer Park, Marina Crescent Bushland and Darook Park. This will be achieved through weed eradication and control, revegetation using indigenous species and community education and involvement. The project will strengthen the existing rainforest remnants, allowing natural regeneration to occur, and the size of the remnants will be increased through revegetation. Wildlife corridors will also be expanded as a result of the project. Awareness of the community will also be improved.

The Price of Sewerage

Unsewered areas within Sydney Water's region have been clamouring for some time to have their sewerage problems solved by either the relevant Council or by Sydney Water. It would appear that Sydney Water's, and by association, Councils', only final solution to sewering challenges is to collect sewer into pipes that feed to huge pumps that propel our waste to sea. This in spite of proven, more environmentally friendly, systems.

Sydney Water is now putting pressure on the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to downgrade the "P" (pristine) classification of the Hacking (See Protectorate 18, December 1998). Such lower classification will enable Sydney Water to put in its sewerage systems in the upper catchment. These systems require overflows into waterways which are not allowed under current regulations for class "P" waterways. Rather than find less environmentally risky solutions, Sydney Water appears to find it more convenient to pressure public authorities.
A sewerage overflow in a northern Sydney suburb
If Sydney Water gets its way, those who live in and recreate in the Hacking catchment can "benefit" from sewerage from two sources: First from overflows in the catchment - there are already significant problems with sewerage contamination on the northern shores of Port Hacking; second from sewerage that sweeps into the Port from Potters Point. By no stretch of the imagination can this be characterised as an "ideal" result.

On the subject of Potters Point: We are about to go to a third State election where the promises to upgrade sewerage treatment works in the catchment have not been fulfilled. Potters Point, in spite of being a primary treatment plant, is apparently still accepting concentrates from Malabar to pump out to sea. Every beach in Cronulla regularly fails national guidelines for clean waters. Gunamatta Bay continues to be heavily polluted. The slick of sewerage stretching from Potters Point south over the ocean continues to foul boats and sealife. Meanwhile Sydney Water and the State Government seem more concerned with old-fashioned solutions and internal political wrangling rather than resolutions.

Write to: your local member, to Bob Carr, Premier, and to Pam Allen, Minister for the Environment, expressing your disgust at the inaction, tardy action and short-sighted action, in tackling sewer problems in the region. Write to the Director of EPA and the Director of Sydney Water urging them to consider the need to install solutions that enhance rather than degrade our environment.

Dear Editor... By Phone

PHPS receives, each summer, numerous calls from people concerned about the number of nippers taken for bait, particularly around Deeban Spit, Maianbar, and Fisherman's Bay. People's concerns are predominantly over the sheer numbers of nippers harvested per individual and the amount of foul-smelling mud that the pumping of nippers brings to the surface spoiling sand beaches.

In the past, when PHPS has rung NSW Fisheries regarding this problem, they've basically told us that there is no problem. Nippers, we were told, are inexhaustible and there is no need to have more restrictions on pumping than are currently in place (basically, no bait taking allowed in Gunnamatta Bay). We contacted both Fisheries Head Office and Fisheries Research to find out whether any studies had been carried out with regard to the apparently inexhaustible supply of nippers and the pollutant effects. They told us no studies have been carried out and none were planned. We have written to the Hacking River Catchment Management Committee to ask them to investigate this matter further and they have asked Fisheries for a report.
A Maianbar resident rang us to say that he had witnessed a person dumping building material in the Port. This dumper was apparently known to have carried out other environmental vandalism acts. The resident notified the NPWS of the incident and provided the details. He was dismayed to find that NPWS decided not to prosecute the person.

We contacted NPWS to ask why the dumper had not been prosecuted. We were told that whether or not to charge is the discretion of the officer on duty. The dumper, however, has been issued a warning and his details are now on the database and future incidents will not be dealt with so leniently. We understand that the dumper will be required to clean up the mess.

Dear Editor... By Letter

Dear Editor,

Please excuse the paper on which this is written. It was all that I could find.

I had a smile on my face as I read our Councillors' commitment to Port Hacking (Protectorate 18, December 1998).

It is a shame that Port Hacking doesn't reflect it. I remember the strong community sentiments for the natural setting when Public Works was trying to sell its tombolo. That natural setting is rapidly disappearing under the custody of these champions of our environment. Ah, commitment to the setting!

I recall also the dreadful public controversy over the kayakers and the Sea Scouts competing over a bit of foreshore to accommodate their activities. Two clean, healthy, unobtrusive, low cost pursuits in a life and death struggle for a bit of space. Ah, commitment to access!

And I'm glad Council's Chairman of the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee was just too busy saving the Port to write a piece for your silly little paper. Ah, now that's commitment!

And what about commitment directed towards big boating in Port Hacking. Now we're talking commitment!

Ah well, I'm just glad that my family and I are spending yet another summer in the waters of the Port. I know that I'm safe from all this commitment stuff.

E.Coli. (K Palmer) Dolans Bay

Dear Editor,

The Mayor's response in the last issue concerning the Memorandum of Understanding causes me to wonder whether he has actually read the document. If he has, then his response suggests that he doesn't understand it.

My concern for years has been that like some of his fellow Councillors, the Mayor thinks that the Memorandum and the Plan of Management are all about boating and dredging. They are not. They are broader and more visionary.

The Mayor, like others, also talks about "stakeholders". He quickly must recognise that subsequent generations are the stakeholders, not some small, self-interested sections of the community who would appear to have the contemporary clout in town.

B Williams - Lilli Pilli

PHPS Annual General Meeting

The Port Hacking Protection Society will be holding its Annual General Meeting on 21 March 1999 at 5 Hordern Lane, Bundeena, commencing at 11.15 am. Members and friends welcome.

New members welcome. Agenda: President's report, Treasurer's report, election of Office bearers, and general business. The meeting will be followed by a BBQ.

Please call George Harrison on 9523 8436 if you wish to attend.
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