Griffith’s troubled Lake Wyangan experienced a red alert of another kind after heavy storms last week.
During the storm, rain water ran through from the red soil from private farms in the Nericon region into channels; and polluted red-coloured water then drained into the north part of the North Lake.
Footage of the red water entering the lake was videoed and provided to The Area News by Scott Collis of Griffith Boat Club.
“You can imagine the fertilisers and chemicals used on those farms”.
“Run off from Nericon farms turned the north half of the north lake brown”.
Mr Sainty said the brown water stops light from entering the water, preventing wetland plants from growing.
Mr Sainty said these wetland plants are essential for lake water health, as they compete with the cynobacteria (blue-green algae); and stop the dangerous bacteria from becoming dominant.
Kel Williams, who owns a farm in the area, said run off is a common problem during heavy rains – with the turbid (polluted) water also going onto his property.
“I’ve seen this blood red water before… they really need to bring in legislation to stop this occurring”.
Mr Sainty said such laws would be difficult to enforce, so there is a need for Council and Murrumbidgee Irrigation to build infrastructure to protect the lake water.
“You need to seal off a part of the North lake, up to 15 per cent, which can take in the irrigation water,” Mr Sainty said.
Mr Sainty said the turbid water should be allowed to settle for a few days, when it will either evaporate or clear up before it enters the main part of the lake.
“You could even build a concrete wall in the lake”.
When asked about the issue, Council said in statement:
“The management of turbid water is one of the key recommendations as identified by the Lake Wyangan & Catchment Management Strategy report and will be considered by the Lake Wyangan & Catchment Management Committee in due course”.
The Lake Wyangan & Catchment Management Committee is a council committee that includes MI and community representatives. It’s next meeting is in May.
Mr Sainty said, “turbid water entering the lake has been an issue for several years, and MI and Council have done nothing about it”.
The management strategy report, released in October after being commission by Council, highlighted the problem of turbid water flows into the lake. No proposed solutions were provided in the report.
Mr Sainty said the lake is already suffering from poor quality greeny-brown water entering the lake from irrigation channels, and the red water following storms just compound the problems.
“MI don’t give a damn about water quality, they never have,” he said.
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi last week has responded to sustained criticism of MI and Griffith City Council on alleged lake inaction, by outlining a series of steps they are taking to combat blue-green algae, in the lake.
This includes trialing what’s called envirosonic ultrasound devices in south Lake Wyangan to test whether they can control algal outbreaks.
Mr Sainty describes these devices as “useless”.
“The lake is far too big for such devices to work”.
“It’s using a mechanical method to do something that should be done ecologically [by using wetland plants]”.
Mayor John Dal Broi said it’s too early to say whether or not the devices will be effective.
Cr 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 lake water quality.