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CHAPTER 9 - Chapter 9 ~ Stormwater Pollution in the Fairy...

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Chapter 9 ~ Stormwater Pollution in the Fairy Creek Catchment Chapter 9: Stormwater Pollution in the Fairy Creek Catchment Phillip Ganues Australia’s beaches are a key component of its cultural identity, but this symbol is not as clean as could be. Beach pollution is—or should be—an issue of great concern to the beach-going public. There are many reasons why beaches become polluted. Oil spills, industrial discharge of toxic waste, trash, and even unsafe levels of treated sewage are well-known and obvious sources of pollution. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the most common cause of beach pollution is contaminated stormwater. The environmental movement’s concern about beach pollution has shifted from sewerage to stormwater. This change in focus is in large part due to increased water quality testing, which has revealed stormwater as the major culprit. In response, in 1997 the state government created the Waterways Package, a plan to improve the quality of the state’s waterways. The state mandated that every council have a stormwater management plan aimed at achieving clean, healthy waterways, and allocated $60 million as part of a stormwater trust fund to improve water quality. Stormwater causes beach pollution because it becomes contaminated with pollutants as it travels through the stormwater system. These pollutants can include dog droppings, automobile fluids, cigarette butts, litter, runoff from streets, and anything that is washed into the stormwater system. Stormwater is then piped into catchments (areas of land that drain to a common point) that empty unfiltered into the sea. This problem is exacerbated by land development, which alters natural catchments, introduces unnatural pollutants, and results in the environment being unable to filter water as it previously could. Stormwater beach pollution has dramatically affected North Weston Beach (also known as North Beach), primarily through the overflow of 1
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Alyssa Weil ~ September 2009 stormwater from the Fairy Creek Lagoon. During heavy rain the lagoon discharges at the northern end of North Beach through Chatwin Park to the Tasman Sea. The Fairy Creek Lagoon has three major contributing waterways: the Fairy Creek, the Durras Arm, and the Cabbage Tree Creek. According to the Weston Coastal Stormwater Management Plan (WCSMP), the total area of these catchments is 3,416.3 hectares. This chapter will focus on the Fairy Creek Catchment or sub catchment 3 as defined by the WCSMP. The Fairy Creek Catchment has been under heavy stress from development for over 150 years, with the majority of roads and developed land established more than 50 years ago. Little was known about flooding at the time, and development was allowed to expand into natural floodplains, creating hard surfaces that increased unchecked stormwater runoff. The problems are further compounded by the physical constraints of the area. The steep escarpment to the west, bounded by the Tasman Sea to the east, leaves little room for Weston to expand, putting extra development pressure on already over-developed land.
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