Inspection blitz aims to bring wildlife and swimmers back to Sydney’s waterways
The fourth Get the Site Right compliance and education campaign was held during May. The month-long campaign targets erosion and sediment control on commercial and residential building sites across Sydney and the Central Coast. It also aims to raise awareness about the effects of sediment laden run-off on our waterways, and improve water quality to bring wildlife and swimmers back to the city’s harbours and rivers.
On Wednesday, 16 May, NSW EPA, Department of Planning & Environment and councils took part in a one-day blitz, where dozens of compliance officers were out in force, targeting repeat offenders and issuing fines where appropriate.
Results from the November 2017 campaign showed a steady improvement in compliance rates from the previous campaign held last May.
NSW EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said sediment run-off was an often-overlooked issue that could have significant impacts on the environment.
“Everyone in Sydney wants to see our waterways return to a condition where aquatic life can thrive and residents can swim,” Ms Howard said.
“Sediment laden run-off might seem like a small problem limited to gutters and stormwater drains, but when that runoff hits our waterways it not only affects the water quality and amenity, but it smothers aquatic vegetation, clogs fish gills, and can even block waterways entirely during storms and floods.
“While Get the Site Right is a targeted compliance blitz that will include the issuing of fines, what we’re 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.”
PRCG Chair Mark Drury said with Sydney’s growing population there is a rapidly increasing demand for clean, local rivers and creeks. “In a community survey conducted by the PRCG in 2016, 54 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to swim in the Parramatta River if it was safe to do so,” Clr Drury said.
“With a growing population there is always going to be associated growth in construction, and Get the Site Right is an important part of our ongoing strategy to manage the environmental impacts of that construction and achieve our mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025.”
Results from the May campaign will be published in the next issue.
Members of the public can report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555. More information on erosion and sediment control is available at: www.ourlivingriver.com.au/getthesiteright