Wetlands

Maitland City Council’s General Manager David Evans:

Over the last week, there has been some comment in the media and on social media in relation to Council transporting water to replenish wetlands within the city.  This is not the case.

Future initiatives to assist in building the resilience of our environment will be addressed via Council’s Local Strategic Planning Statement that is currently under development and has been subject to extensive community consultation.

Maitland has a number of both natural wetlands and constructed water bodies in the form of lagoons, dams and stormwater detention basins. Any water body can be an important asset to the environment, particularly during times of drought. It is important to note that natural wetlands undertake a wetting and drying cycle, and this is important for maintaining these ecosystems. This cycle has been exacerbated by the drought.

Algae Levels Still Rising

Water sampling undertaken this month indicates that Blue Green Algae levels have increased at Telarah Lagoon to red alert, Rathluba Lagoon to amber alert and remain at high alert for Walka Water Works.

Blue Green Algae are microscopic cells that grow naturally in Australian fresh and saline waters. However, when conditions are favourable for algae growth, blooms can occur. Blooms appear as a thick paint like accumulation on the water’s surface or as small green floating dots. Scums are normally green or blue-green in colour and have a distinctive earthy smell.

‘During this time of high temperatures and low levels of water, blue-green algae can be a risk in any waterbody,” said Council’s Acting Group Manager Planning and Environment Andrew Neil.

The potential exists for algal blooms to appear in a very short time period and caution must be taken using and entering waterbodies.

‘Once an algal bloom has developed, there isn’t a great deal authorities can do to reverse the situation except wait for a climatic change.

Council will monitor the lagoons at Walka Water Works, Telarah and Rathluba for Blue Green Algae growth over the summer months.’

Blue Green Algae can be a serious problem for human health and the environment, with the potential to release neurotoxins, liver toxins and skin irritants. Domestic pets and livestock can also be impacted if they come into contact with water affected by an algal bloom. The toxins in Blue Green Algae cannot be removed through boiling the water. If people believe they or their animals have been affected by Blue Green Algae they should seek medical attention.

To help reduce the likelihood of a bloom occurring in Maitland’s water bodies this summer, reduce the amount of nutrients going into local waterways by washing vehicles on the grass, removing leaves and grass clippings from gutters and by applying fertilisers as per packaging instructions.

Alert levels in the Maitland area are available on council website and further information on algal blooms including a Department of Primary Industries factsheet is available at
maitland.nsw.gov.au/blue-green-algae