COFFS Harbour Council has won a Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Award.
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The Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement On-Ground Works Award was won by Coffs Council for its work on identifying and managing impacts on water quality from intensive plant agriculture (IPA) in collaboration with Southern Cross University.
Since the first study in 2016 on water quality impacts from IPA on Bucca Bucca Creek, Council has supported a further eight studies that have quantified how much fertiliser is being lost to waterways from IPA, sediment loss impacts, and options to manage these impacts.
Four experimental nutrient woodchip bioreactors have been installed to treat wastewater, three studies have been published in peer reviewed journals (two with Council staff as a co-author), and the studies led directly to NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Agriculture conducting further research to better determine optimum fertiliser application rates for NSW IPA.
A Council spokesperson said, “The collaboration has also led to more communication with industry, NSW DPI Agriculture, Local Land Services, and farmers on management of fertilisers and waste water from IPA.”
The Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Awards were handed out across 16 categories including resource recovery, community health, climate change adaptation, invasive species and sustainable infrastructure.
Also among the winners were Bathurst Regional Council for decreasing water consumption by 63 per cent and Campbelltown City Council for weed reduction in the upper Georges River.
Shoalhaven City Council was overall winner in the resource recovery category for its bushfire waste recycling program, which involved the establishment of a temporary processing facility to recycle some 18,000 tonnes of demolition waste from homes destroyed in the summer bushfires.
Ninety-six per cent of the material was recovered for use.