Many years of poor water quality at Terrigal Beach raise concern

Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton, and Terrigal MP, Adam Crouch, discuss the water quality issue with, Tony Horwood, and members of the Terrigal Haven Supporters Group

The Terrigal Haven Supporters Group has welcomed a pledge from the State Government that it will outlay $500,000 for a major investigation into poor water quality at Terrigal Beach if re-elected on March 23.
But it would also like to see Central Coast Council establish an independent working group, to include key stakeholders and community representatives, to find solutions to the problem “within a timeframe that demonstrates a sense of urgency”.
NSW Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton, and Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch, met with members of the groupon February 19, following a community meeting in early February, which called for urgent action.
Water quality at the popular beach has been consistently listed as “poor” by the government’s own Beachwatch program for the past eight years, with multiple complaints from beachgoers of “smelly water”.
Minister Upton said the half million dollar funding would allow for a detailed, scientific audit and analysis of the pollution sources in the catchment, to pave the way for solutions to the ongoing problem.
“Terrigal beach and lagoon, along with Wamberal, Avoca and Cochrane lagoons, were graded as having poor water quality in the State of the Beaches 2017–18 report,” she said.
“A poor grade indicates the site is more susceptible to pollution and not always suitable for swimming.
“We know storm water pollution can have a significant impact on water quality, but we need to have good information about where that pollution is coming from and how best to prevent it entering the beaches and lagoons.
“We aim to not just investigate but also find solutions and help Central Coast Council do a better job here is at its best.”
Minister Upton confirmed that the $500,000 would be separate from any funding Council might apply for under the government’s Coastal Estuary Grants Program.
Crouch said residents and visitors deserved to be able to enjoy the local environment and swim in clean, safe water, and it was disappointing that Council had not yet applied for funding to address the problem.
“The Government will continue to work with Council on water quality issues and coastal management,” he said.
The Terrigal Haven Supporters group congratulated Crouch for lobbying for and securing a pledge for State Government funding, and was confident that work would proceed should the Government be re-elected.
But it would like to see a working group formed as a more immediate measure.
Meanwhile, Council resolved at its meeting on February 25, to undertake a systematic audit to identify the potential source of the enterococci bacteria found in routine water testing at Terrigal Beach.
The initial stage of the audit will involve scientific sampling of the stormwater drains and seawater in wet and dry weather conditions, with the results to inform further testing and monitoring, as well as any expansion of testing into the stormwater catchment as required.
Mayor, Jane Smith, said a report should be back to Council by mid-year.
“We need to pinpoint the source of any contaminants, as they may come from further up the catchment,” Smith said.
“We do water testing regularly, but we will now be doing increased testing with more detailed work.
“A range of factors come into play, particularly as Terrigal becomes increasingly urbanised.”
Smith said the time to apply for e funding under the Coastal Estuary Grants Program would be when problems and solutions had been identified.
Councillor Greg Best, who was the only councillor to vote against the resolution, said it was nothing but an “investigation fest” and that immediate action was required.
“There is a significant public health risk and we have a duty of care,” he said after the meeting.
“Anecdotal evidence of infections possibly contracted from swimming in the water at Terrigal should be ringing alarm bells.”
Best suggested immediate action could be taken in the form of installing gross pollutant traps on stormwater drains feeding on to the beach, and the distribution of flyers warning householders to take special care with such things as the disposal of dog waste and the use of lawn fertilisers.
Council should also consider closing the beach altogether when the lagoon is opened to the sea, he said.
Council is awaiting further information on the details of the pledge for a State Government audit, which has been described by The Greens candidate for Terrigal, Bob Doyle, as a “cash splash” prior to the March 23 State election.
“Evidence of poor water quality has been around for nearly a decade,” Doyle said.

Media release, Feb 19
Adam Crouch, Terrigal MP
Interview, Feb 19
NSW Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton
Media release, Feb 25
Bob Doyle, Greens Candidate for Terrigal
Agenda item 5.2
Central Coast Council Ordinary Meeting, Feb 25
Media statement, Feb 26
Central Coast Mayor Jane Smith
Media release, Feb 26
Terrigal Haven Supporters Group
Interview, Feb 26
Councillor Greg Best
Reporter: Terry Collins in ensuring all the beauty

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