Wiigulga Sports Complex and blueberry farm blamed for Woolgoolga Lake pollution

A pollution breach at Woolgoolga Lake at the start of the month has been blamed on the Wiigulga Sports Complex site and a local blueberry farm. Photo: Woolgoolga Lake Working Group.

 

AN investigation into a recent pollution outbreak at Woolgoolga Lake has been blamed on works at the Wiigulga Sports Complex site and an earthworks development at a local blueberry farm.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has stated that it is working with Coffs Harbour City Council regarding sediment in Woolgoolga Lake, allegedly originating from an earthworks development at a nearby blueberry farm and the Wiigulga Sports Complex development.

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“Coffs Harbour City Council is the environmental regulator for the blueberry farm and is undertaking regulatory action in relation to sediment allegedly originating from the farm; this is understood to be the primary source of sediment in Woolgoolga Lake,” an EPA spokesperson stated.

“The EPA issued Lahey Constructions Pty Ltd with a Clean Up Notice on 14 July 2021, directing the company to improve sediment and erosion controls at the site.

“Lahey Constructions Pty Ltd has commenced improvement works which the EPA will continue to monitor.”

The EPA is the environmental regulator for the Wiigulga Sports Complex Development as these works are being done by the Council.

A Council spokesperson said Council has been investigating a property off Newmans Road, Woolgoolga which is suspected to be the primary site of concern.

“Staff from Council’s Environmental Health and Building Compliance sections have inspected the site several times since first being notified of the incident,” the spokesperson said.

“Widespread failures were noted in regard to sediment and erosion control measures with sediment-laden water observed leaving the site.

“Council has issued notices directing responsible persons to undertake a range of works to prevent further sediment leaving the site.”

Council is continuing to work with the property operators to prevent further pollution.

Woolgoolga Lake Working Group secretary Karen Dallas said she was aware that Lahey Constructions has done “a lot of work in the areas that were in breach of EPA”.

“Unfortunately what they have done now should have been done in the first place,” Karen said.

The pollution breach occurred on 1 July following significant rain in the local area, and news of the breach quickly spread over social media.

Ms Dallas said at the time that sediment runoff can have a “severe impact on the lake and its environs”.

“Sediment can clog fish gills, reducing resistance to disease, can lower growth rates, and affect fish egg and larvae development,” she said.

“Construction sites, agricultural developments when large areas of land are being cleared and dams being built need to ensure that their erosion and sediment control plans are effective in ensuring that sediment laden water does not run off their sites and into natural waterways.”

 

By Emma DARBIN

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