Bay eyes on water

A BAY watch coalition of the willing will be established to act on Port Phillip Bay pollution if a Kingston Council plan gains state and federal government support.

Councillors at a public council meeting this month unanimously agreed to write to state and federal MPs to seek cooperation and participation in a joint committee to try to clean up water quality at bayside beaches.

Cr Georgina Oxley said water pollution is increasingly a problem along Kingston’s 13 kilometres of foreshore.

“There has been a lot of concern, particularly during the summer months, around the bay pollution,” she said at the meeting.

“I look back to summer last year and we had closures of Carrum beach, Chelsea beach [and] Mentone.”

Cr Oxley highlighted Mentone beach as being of particular concern.

“On a bad week … the bacteria levels were five times the average,” she said.

She noted Patterson River and Mordialloc Creek flows “do contribute a lot” to pollution and said Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria and the Environment Pollution Authority could also be involved in the proposed committee.

“This is something we can all work together on and all agree on.”

Cr Steve Staikos noted “water quality has become a significant problem for us, not just in the bay but also on land.”

“Because there are so many stormwater outlets illegally plumbed into the sewage system it creates such an incredible strain on the sewage system that it does spill into the stormwater system and then run into the bay itself.”

Testing at bayside and peninsula beaches during the 2016-17 summer season by the EPA released last month revealed Kingston beaches often suffered from poor water quality.

Mentone and Mordialloc beaches were ranked equal 24th out of 36 beaches tested twice daily.

Carrum and Aspendale beaches were equally ranked 29th for water quality.

EPA applied sciences group manager Anthony Boxshall said rainfall of more than 10 millimetres was often associated with poor water quality at bay beaches.

“While it was quite a dry summer, Victoria experienced prolonged downpours around the Christmas and New Year’s period that contributed to extended periods of poor water quality at all of the 36 beaches that EPA monitors,” Dr Boxshall said. “Unfortunately for beachgoers, most of this rain fell just before or during weekends, and usually just before warmer weather, which is when bay beaches are at their busiest.”

Dr Boxshall said that Melbourne’s stormwater system and the downhill nature of the landscape towards the bay meant that heavy rain flushed anything on suburban streets into the bay.

“Eight major creeks and rivers, and more than 300 drainage outlets flow into Port Phillip. Sources of this water include about 5000 underground drains that collect Melbourne’s runoff,” Dr Boxshall said.

“From there, about 540,000 million litres of stormwater containing around 160,000 tonnes of sediment washes into the bay annually; and remember that the bay itself is only about 25 cubic kilometres.”

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 17 May 2017

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