Griffith City Council has opted to take back a decision that would have seen them voting spray a major weed causing issues along Lake Wyangan’s shoreline.
The move comes just weeks after council decided to go ahead and spray the weed, known as Cumbungi, using a helicopter.
The idea to spray the weed was initially raised Australian wetlands expert Geoff Sainty, who says the weed “causes a major ecological problem” through both lakes.
Concerns over the spraying of the weed was raised by councillors after they received a letter from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) about the proposed use of a herbicide called Glyphosate 360 over waterways.
Additionally, photos were produced by Deputy Mayor Dino Zappacosta that showed large areas of the weed had already died off, meaning any spray would be ineffective.
Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi says the Lake’s ongoing issue is not one council plans on abandoning.
“I’ll certainly be recommending going forward that we do some trials. Obviously, areal application is of concern to some residents in that vicinity. I will ask staff to look into whether it’s possible to get a boat or a pontoon to get in there and perhaps spray it by hand,” he said.
“It’s something we’re not going to abandon, that’s for sure. It’s a wonderful spot.”
Australian wetlands expert Geoff Sainty says he feels the lake has been allowed to decline over the last few decades and dangerous levels of blue green algae in the water have long restricted it’s usage.
He says he was disappointed by the decision.
“You won’t get a kill for the weed. You’ll have to wait until this time next year to wipe it all out,” he said.
“Often the weed goes brown or dies back at this time, but it’s not dead. If they were concerned that parts of the weed had already died off, they could have targeted spots that were still green.”
Mr Sainty says the cumbungi weed creates a poor habitat for birds, out-competes other waterplants and limits area of shallow habitat where waterplants can compete with bacteria and expand into deeper water.
Councillor Brian Simpson spoke in defense of the application of Glyphosate 360 at the recent council meeting, saying its label use says it’s safe for waterways as long as it’s not applied from the air. He also stated that it’s used by Irrigation companies to combat weed problems in channels.
He says council could have applied for a Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for an off-label use of the product, allowing them to spray it to combat the weeds in Lake Wyangan.
”We could have already had an off-label permit applied for had we acted swiftly on this. I understand that any delays on this will put us another 12 months behind the scene,” he said.
Lake Wyangan’s ongoing issues also extend to concerns surrounding water quality and the high levels of blue-green algae found within the Lake.
A plan put forward by Mr Sainty last year would see a natural wetland habitat on the eastern shore to help fight the Lake’s ongoing problem.
He said a key issue is Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI), the privately owned irrigation company who manages the south lake’s water.
“They don't give a damn about water quality. They never have”.
Mayor Dal Broi said council is currently exploring other options to fix the Lake, including the proposed appointment of project officer dedicated solely to monitoring Lake Wyangan.
He also confirmed plans to put money aside and explore funding avenues to combat the issue.
“We’d like to make available about $500,000 to start to implement some of these procedures so that we can improve some of the quality of the water,” he said.