Builders, developers and home renovators are more successfully implementing erosion and sediment controls on building sites to protect our local waterways, according to results from the recent Get the Site Right education and compliance campaign.
In June 2020, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and 14 local councils inspected more than 600 sites across Sydney and the Central Coast. Almost three quarters (73%) of the sites inspected were compliant. This is compared to the May 2019 campaign where only 63% of sites inspected were managing their sites adequately.
A total of $189,484 in fines was issued to non-compliant sites. Offences ranged from no controls in place at all and unprotected soil stockpiles in locations where they could be washed away, to minor offences such as ruptured sediment bags and inadequate sweeping of roads and driveways.
Sediment runoff fills our creeks, rivers and harbours with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This leads to poorer water quality, affecting swimming and leisure activities in and around waterways. It also degrades aquatic habitats by smothering marine plants and animals. Sediment runoff can also block stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows and erosion of creeks and riverbanks.
The improvement in compliance rates is encouraging in light of the increase in home renovation and DIY projects stemming from COVID-19 restrictions and introduction of government stimulus packages for builders and renovators.
Georges Riverkeeper Chairman, Geoff Shelton, says: “Thank you to the developers, builders and home renovators who are contributing to improving the health of our local waterways by controlling sediment on site to prevent run-off into our catchment drains and rivers.”
“Waterways are important to the community, they provide recreational corridors, tourism and business opportunities, and make our cities more liveable in these times of changing climate and urban heat,” he says.
Every building site, regardless of size, must ensure they have controls in place to help prevent river health degradation for the entire community and to the benefit of the environment.
Now in its fifth year, the Get the Site Right campaign is a joint program between the Cooks River Alliance, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Georges Riverkeeper, Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG), Sydney Coastal Councils Group, local Sydney councils and Lake Macquarie Council.
Councils that participated in the June 2020 campaign include: Bayside City Council, Campbelltown City Council, City of Canterbury Bankstown, Georges River Council, Hunters Hill Council, Lake Macquarie Council, Liverpool City Council, Northern Beaches Council, City of Parramatta Council, Strathfield Council, Sutherland Shire Council, Waverley Council, Randwick City Council and Willoughby City Council.
Members of the public who may be out exercising near our waterways during these times, are encouraged to report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to their local council or the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.