Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi says his Council and Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI) are undertaking a series of steps to improve water quality in Lake Wyangan.
The Mayor has responded to sustained criticism of MI and Griffith City Council by people who claim they are not doing enough to combat the prolonged outbreaks of cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, in the lake.
“We’ve copped a fair bit of criticism, some of it we deserved… but we are going to try and fix this”.
The mayor said MI and Council are trialing ultrasound technology to control blue-green algae; conducting regular tests to determine the types of toxins in the water; and exploring ways to fund a major infrastructure system to enhance water quality.
He also said Council are looking to appoint a full-time project officer to oversee lake issues, and said he wants to ensure Lake Wyanagn is not sourced for tap water again while the lake is at a red alert [unsafe] levels.
Cr Dal Broi chairs the Lake Wyangan and Catchment Management Committee, which includes representatives from Council, Murrumbidgee Irrigation and the general community. The committee had its quarterly meeting last Tuesday, and Cr Dal Broi said members discussed a number of strategies to deal with the blue-green algae problem.
Geoff Sanity’s plan to fix Lake Wyangan
Council and MI had been slammed for a perceived reluctance to accept a plan by Wetlands expert Geoff Sainty to fix Lake Wyangan.
But Cr Dal Broi said MI and Council are in fact looking at ways to implement Mr Sainty’s key stratergies.
“There are very good aspects to Mr Sanity’s plans. We have to look at some of the things he is saying.”
Mayor Dal Broi said he sees merit in installing some of the infrastructure recommended by Mr Sainty, including a pump that recirculates the water around the system.
“We have to look at ways we can fund this infrastructure, and we have to expedite this.”
“We’ve got to go out and seek tenders if we’re going to do some work. There has to be a master plan and it has to be tested… and we have to consult with the community.”
Cr Dal Broi said there’s also a need to negotiate with owners of the surrounding farms.
“In the overall scheme, there are barriers [to implementing Mr Sainty’s ideas], but they are not insurmountable”.
Use of technology to test and control algae outbreaks
Cr Dal Broi say MI, for the past four months, have been trialing what’s called envirosonic ultrasound devices in south Lake Wyangan to test whether they can control algal outbreaks.
“It’s very early stages to see whether it will have an effect to improve the water”.
It is hoped the technology, costing $30,000, will enhance water quality in the short-term.
Cr Dal Broi also said they are undertaking what’s called molecular analysis of blue-green algae water samples, which determine the type and extent of the toxins.
“Initial tests reveal that the toxins are not dangerous to humans”.
But the mayor stressed more testing needs to be done.
Proposed appointment of project officer dedicated solely to Lake Wyangan
Mayor John Dal Broi said the Council General Manager Brett Stonestreet is recommending a project officer be employed for a period of three years to manage Lake Wyangan and to explore avenues to improve the quality of the water.
He said the recommendation for the appointment will be made to Griffith City Council at its second ordinary meeting in late February.
No more sourcing of Lake Wyangan for tap water
Council and MI came under fire when it was revealed Lake Wyangan was sourced for tap water last winter; while the supply of water from the main canal was cut off due to MI upgrade works.
Mayor Dal Broi said he does not want to see that happen again.
“I’d rather restrictions [on water use be put in place] than have people concerned that we are using water from a lake that is on red alert”.
“At the time [last year], the water was tested and re-tested to make sure it was fit for human consumption.”
The water was also shandied with better quality water.
“But I have a simple philosophy, would I like that water? No. So I shouldn’t be imposing it on anyone else,” Mayor Dal Broi said.
The Mayor said he has come to an agreement with MI that sourcing of Lake Wyangan for tap water would only occur in the most extreme of circumstances.