SSEC logo The Hacking River Catchment  
Hacking River Catchment Home | the Protectorate | resources | pictures & maps  

April 1996

A Creative Protest

Two artists recently used their considerable talents to paint this craft, wrecked on the shores of Gunnamatta Bay. They were visually displaying their dismay at the environmental degradation personal water craft cause around Port Hacking.This piece of artwork was quickly removed. Literally overnight, someone(s) had come and painted over the whole scene, leaving only a rust-coloured hull to stare blankly at the waterway.


As a community striving to live in harmony with its environment, we've come a long way. The responses from Councillors to several questions about Port Hacking tell us that they have taken on board concerns about the wellbeing of its ecology.

In the last issue of the Protectorate (no 10), we flagged that we would publish the response of our recently elected Council to several questions we posed:
  • To what degree do you support the Memorandum of Understanding (the basis for State Government approval of maintenance dredging) and Sutherland Council's Plan of Management for Port Hacking?

  • What issues concerning Port Hacking do you think Council should focus on?

  • What changes would you like to see with regard to the way Sutherland Shire Council is currently dealing with issues around Port Hacking?

Many of the fifteen Sutherland Shire Councillors responded to our questions, giving us a valuable insight to the problems and challenges they have recognised on their agenda. We've published their responses in the following pages (see p.5). We've preceded each set of responses with background information. It was uplifting to us, when putting together the background for, especially the question on issues concerning Port Hacking, how many of the items raised by PHPS in the past have now found a home. Talent and effort are being exerted to control and solve the Port's environmental problems. Upper catchment development, foreshore development, dredging, care for the biota of the Port, water quality are all issues that are not only being paid lip-service but have programs, committees, dollars and action attached to them. More and more, the community, Council, and regulatory authorities in general are realising that no problem can be adequately addressed in isolation to others. Hopefully this push will see an increasingly integrated approach to problems in the Port, maybe even a single co-ordinating authority (we live in hope!).

Some issues do remain, apparently, in the too-hard basket. The mooring of large ships at the head of Port continue to worry PHPS. Such moorings without even an adequate plan for controlling disaster should it occur (oil spill, polluted bilge water, running aground, etc.) seem foolish. Yet in spite of repeated letters from PHPS to the relevant authorities, the practice continues.
Ship moored in Bate Bay. Photo: B.Allen
Another issue that concerns PHPS is that of poor regulation. Laws, rules, regulations are a step towards controlling abuses, but if they are not policed, they are not effective. Shellfish harvesting is a good example. Several areas around Port Hacking were declared "intertidal protected areas" from mid 1993 with a possible fine of $5000 attached. Yet anyone living or recreating on these intertidal protected areas knows that the harvesting continues. The sporadic forays by NPWS Rangers who confiscate harvested shellfish, crabs and the like, simply means that people do it when there is no Ranger in sight.

The stretched resources of regulatory authorities cause them to be frequently out of sight. The increased nuisance of irresponsible boat users on the Port is another issue of ineffective regulation. We've written more about this in the following pages. We've written quite a lot about it to Mr. Carl Scully, the Minister for Ports, too.

Although our focus in this issue of the Protectorate has been on giving you the ideas and agendas of the newly elected Council, we are also introducing you to the newly appointed coordinator of the Hacking River Total Catchment Management Committee (HRCMC), Libby Rawlingstone. The HRCMC continues to be a motivating force in pushing forward significant environment programs and collecting relevant data. Libby, provides us with an update on the work of the Committee.

Let me conclude this editorial by inviting you to use this newsletter to put forward your ideas or observations about issues you regard as important to Port Hacking. Although the efforts that go into producing the Protectorate are voluntary, its publication costs are met by a Landcare grant. The grant is, ultimately, money from the public purse - your money. We do, therefore, regard this newsletter as your newsletter with a specific aim of giving you information about the environment of Port Hacking and providing you with a forum for discussing how issues should be dealt with.

Readers Letters

I found the Nov-Dec 1995 issue of The Port Hacking Protectorate in my mailbox Saturday afternoon. With interest I read some of the articles and marvelled at some of the espoused wisdom. However, when I turned to the article written by Brian Page of Maianbar on Bonny Vale, I nearly choked on my otherwise excellent Dutch coffee.

I don't know Brian Page, but when I read the details and considered their value I started wondering why anyone should get away with giving, what are in my opinion, half-baked opinions in your otherwise most logical environment-based magazine, the magazine supposed a voice for the (to be?) informed Port Hacking admirers. Therefore my comments.

I also look with horror at the waste of ink on every page that has those dreaded black headings with white print in it. Obviously there is no understanding what happens at the printers, where they dispose thoughtfully of the by-products of ink. Of the claimed 10,000 copies printed, the extra amount of ink needed and then to be disposed of chemical (toluol comes to mind) needed, to have those large black headings, appears to be beyond the editorial/typesetting imagination.

A bit of mirth from Paul Martin. It is sometimes funny when breaking the tension in memorandums. Memorandum of Understanding page 11: "Deeper channels will encourage the use of larger powered vessels. These intimidate and cause discomfort to "less" machine intensive users such as swimmers and divers". Question: What do you call a swimmer without a machine? Answer: A dead duck! Really.....

C. Ligthart - Bundeena

My son gave me a copy of the Nov-Dec Issue (of the Protectorate), and your Editorial "whose responsibility?" highlights the amount of government groups which results in a lapsing of commitment to the Memorandum of Understanding submitted by the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee.

We are told that "since 1992, PHPS has consistently emphasised the need for a single regulatory Authority for Port Hacking and its catchment. Without a single Authority, every plan of management will be inefficiently and ineffectively implemented." In every area of society people complain bitterly about bad government, but there is a practical answer if we care enough to inform ourselves and others.

True democracy is not exclusive to Australia but available to any nation with a democratic constitution, if the people understand their communal duty. The right of the electorate to choose its own representative (rather than be confined to electing those chosen by vested interests) is basic and vital.

J. Smith - Caringbah

We received thirteen letters re PWCs. These have been summarised by Paul Martin in the article titled "PWCs in Port Hacking - action!"

Our New Councillors

Their views on Port Hacking

In the December 1995 issue of the Port Hacking Protectorate, we wrote that we would be publishing the views of Councillors on various issues to do with Port Hacking. In the following pages is a brief background to each of these issues and the Councillors' responses to our questions regarding the issue. There are fifteen Councillors. You will note that not all the Councillors responded to the questions we put to them.

The Memorandum of Understanding

We gave considerable coverage of the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding in the last issue of the Protectorate. Basically, the Memorandum deals with the question of how much public money should be spent on dredging Port Hacking and programs that should be put in place to safeguard the amenity of the Waterway. These safeguards are specified in the Memorandum as: a limitation to the permissible moorings West of the area bounded by a line between Cabbage Tree Point and Hungry Point, an agreement between all parties as to the specification of the navigation channels to be maintained, communication on an ongoing basis to the boating community, and foreshore owners, of the limits to the growth in boating uses of the Port. Whereas there is general agreement that responsibility for funding dredging is the NSW State Government's responsibility, implementation of the Memorandum's safeguards depends on the actions of the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee which has not met for over six months but is scheduled to meet again at the end of April.

The question we put to Councillors was:

To what degree do you support the Memorandum of Understanding (the basis for State Government approval of maintenance dredging)?

Responses of Councillors

Councillor Lorraine Rodden, Mayor

I fully support the Memorandum. It has been an excellent vehicle to expedite the dredging of the navigation channels to re-open the Port for safe recreational boating and commercial use. It balances this controlled use with the necessary environmental considerations.

Councillor Phil Blight

I support the Memorandum of Understanding completely. It represents basically the position of minimal maintenance dredging of the Port. In this it represents the views of the community, including boat users and green groups. I was Chairing the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory committee when the Memorandum of Understanding was reached and adopted.

Councillor Kevin Schreiber

I support the Memorandum of Understanding. There should be maintenance dredging. It is clear, however, that next time we wish to dredge, we will need to have an EIS and it will become a major issue. If we don't get it right this time, we may not get a second chance.

Councillor Dawn Emerson

I support minimum dredging to keep channels in Port Hacking free. We must endeavour to keep the dredging to a minimum to protect the benthic communities. We need to live in harmony with the environment.

Councillor Byron Hurst

It represents a good compromise of issues in the Port. Dredging should be a State Government responsibility. They after all collect the revenues from Port users. It is difficult to reconcile boat owners' requirements of the Port with the requirements of other users of the Port. The Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee should be more active in driving forward the Memorandum's ideas. Perhaps having one Authority for the Port, as suggested by PHPS, is the way to tackle conflicting issues around the waterway.

Councillor Paul Smith

I give 100% support and fully understand and know what the Memorandum of Understanding is about.

The Plan of Management for Port Hacking

A bumper issue of the Port Hacking Protectorate in November 1993 provided details of the Plan of Management for Port Hacking. The Plan itself is a 120 A3 pages long document that can be inspected at any branch of Sutherland library or purchased from Sutherland Council's Environmental Services Inquiry Counter for $20.00. The Plan is a recognition that the most significant risks to Port Hacking and the preservation of what is valued by all are not major developments or disastrous events. The real concerns are incremental destruction arising from a series of short-term decisions taken in isolation from other decisions. It's aim is to provide a starting point for the development of an integrated approach to managing Port Hacking and its catchment. Basically, the Plan singles out five areas for special attention, the catchment, the foreshores , the aquatic ecosystems, the waterways and impact minimisation and rehabilitation. It aims to:
  1. Preserve the ecological and aesthetic values of Port Hacking and its catchment;

  2. Provide for maximum opportunities for beneficial recreational and residential use of the Port and its surrounds, within the constraints of sustainable use;

  3. Provide a basis for the co-ordinated management of the entire Port and its catchment to achieve these ends. To put in place the Plan of Management, Council formed the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee.

Perhaps the most significant achievement of that Committee to date has been the Memorandum and Understanding re Dredging in Port Hacking. Many issues identified in the Plan are being addressed by Council through its various departments. However, the major task of coordinating the activities of various Authorities remains poorly addressed.
The question we put to Councillors was:

To what degree do you support Sutherland Shire Council's Plan of Management for Port Hacking?

Councillor Lorraine Rodden (Mayor)

The Plan of Management is a good resource document for the Port and indicates strategic directions for the future. Follow-up is now required to ensure that the necessary actions identified in the Plan are carried through by State Government bodies, Council and the community.

Councillors: Andrew Hodson, David Redmond, Tom White, Steve Simpson, Brett Thomas, Jill Deering

Clr Andrew Hodson Clr David Redmond
The Management plan first adopted in 1992 has, by defining the issues for Port Hacking, allowed a program of co-operation between Council and the various State Government authorities to be developed, and a program of actions to address those issues was commenced by the previous administration in line with the published plan.

The current Council members recognise the important steps already taken but feel that the effects of urban consolidation, development, run off and pollution problems require the remedies suggested both in the plan and externally developed since the Plan's formation should be expedited in their application to the Port.

Since the September 1995 election of your current Council we feel we have made significant progress in this direction.
  • A survey of building sites to study soil erosion and control methods has been completed.

  • Communication established and preliminary talks with responsible State Authorities held to indicate Council's position and desire for future co-operation in solving the issues in the Port.

  • Approval for construction of two more gross pollutant traps in the Hacking catchment to supplement the three already existing.

  • Creation of additional trash racks and an artificial wetland.

  • Studies are currently underway to identify further ways to reduce "hard surfaces" to minimise run-off and increase natural soil absorption of run-off.

  • Council's "Soil Erosion and Sedimentation" policy for development sites passed for public exhibition.

  • Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee reconstituted with Councillor Andrew Hodson (Chair) and Councillor Phil Blight (Next meeting: 23 April 1996)

  • Formation of the new and more strongly focused Integrated Environment Committee (Councillor Byron Hurst, Chair) by combining three environment committees of the previous administration. The inclusion of the Bushcare Volunteers Committee in this new committee has, for the first time, given this Committee the ability to identify environmental problems and, with the assistance of the Bushcare volunteers, put the chosen solutions into action resulting in a quicker remedy being applied.

Issues concerning Port Hacking

One of the major aims of the Port Hacking Protectorate is to publicise issues concerning Port Hacking to both raise community awareness of the issues and to inform the debate on how priorities and compromises should be set regarding the issues. In past copies of the Protectorate, the following issues have been discussed:
  • The Tombolo construction Plan (June 1990) and its history - The plan was vigorously opposed by many and was finally overturned by the Minister in 1988.

  • Sandmining (June 1990, May 1991, November 1993, February 1995) - A proposal to mine sand offshore was rejected in 1994.

  • Developments in the upper catchment, particularly Helensburgh (June 1990, September 1990, May 1991, October 1992, February 1995, May 1995) - Wollongong rejected an urban development plan in April 1991, the State Government zoned three-quarters of the land to be developed as "Environment Protected" and the other 180 hectares of rural area of bushland and farms was earmarked for mediation. The mediation process failed and the State government imposed a Commission of Inquiry resulting in a rezoning of all of the land except for a small part of the Gills creek catchment as "Environment Protected".

  • Shellfish harvesting (May 1991, November 1993, February 1995, May 1995) - several areas around Port Hacking were declared Intertidal Protected Area from 9 July 1993.

  • Sewering Bundeena/Maianbar (May 1991, December 1991, February 1995) - An EIS was set in train in 1991 and to date has still not been put on public exhibition.

  • Marine National Park (May 1991, December 1991) - a proposal put up by NPA.

  • Dredging (December 1991, February 1995, December 1995) - a long-standing issue that edged a little further towards resolution with the Memorandum of Understanding arrived at in 1994.

  • Coordinating Plan of Management (December 1991, October 1992, November 1993, February 1995) - begun in 1984 and finally adopted by Council in 1992.

  • Tourism (December 1991).

  • The Hacking River Total Catchment Management Committee (December 1991, February 1995, December 1995) - established in 1989 but meeting for the first time in October 1993.

  • MEPAs (December 1991, October 1992) - Marine and Estuarine Protection areas.

  • Plants and Animals in the Port (October 1992) - Conference Proceedings.

  • Coal Tailings in the upper catchment (October 1992) - Conference Proceedings.

  • Foreshore development, codes and urban runoff (October 1992, November 1993, February 1995, August 1995).

  • National Trust Issues (October 1992) - Conference Proceedings.

  • Policing waterways users (October 1992, February 1995, November 1995).

  • Shoaling in Port Hacking (October 1992, November 1993, November 1995).

  • Personal Water Crafts (October 1992, November 1993, November 1995).

Clr Brett Thomas Clr Jill Deering
  • The F6 Freeway (November 1993).

  • Oil spills in Port Hacking (November 1993, November 1995).

  • Bushcare (February 1995, August 1995).

  • Water quality and management of wastewater (February 1995, May 1995, November 1995).

  • Royal National Park (May 1995, August 1995, November 1995).

Although the above provides a categorisation of issues, many are really integrated. For instance it is impossible to look at the issue of dredging without looking at the issue of shoaling, to look at water quality without looking at development and urban runoff etc.
Clr Tom White Clr Steve Simpson
The question we put to Councillors was:

What issues concerning Port Hacking do you think Council should focus on?

Councillor Lorraine Rodden (Mayor)

The navigation channels of the Port are going to need dredging on a regular basis, probably every eighteen months or so. This work is a State Government responsibility and Council will liaise with the Department of Land & Water Conservation in regard to the next round of dredging to take place probably in 1997/98.

Water quality is another aspect which requires continued attention. Council has already achieved significant progress with the construction of three gross pollutant traps, three trash racks and an artificial wetland, with two more gross pollutant traps planned for construction in the Hacking Catchment.

A water quality monitoring program covering many of the creeks in the catchment has been carried out and Council is expanding the auditing process of industrial and commercial premises to stop pollution at these many sources.

Siltation in the heads of bays is another issue requiring Council's attention. A study currently under way will assist Council to formulate a suitable solution.

Councillors: Andrew Hodson, David Redmond, Tom White, Steve Simpson, Brett Thomas, Jill Deering

The Plan of Management allows Council and its Sub-Committees to divide the problems of the Port into two categories: Those that fall entirely within Council's authority to act on, and those that require Council to seek the assistance and co-operation of the various State or Federal Government authorities who can contribute to an effective solution.

Clearly, both categories are important but the feeling of the new Council is that those issues or actions that fall within our authority can be acted upon quickest and most effectively while we garner support for our initiatives from the State instruments.

Consequently, soil erosion and sedimentation control, continuation of the council's award winning Water Quality Monitoring pollution and hard surface run-off controls, the installation of pump out facilities at marinas, lobbying the Water Board to address pipe infiltration and sewer overflow, urban design and foreshore protection are all a priority of Council's attention.

In the longer term, making the Port a discharge free zone, lobbying for type 2 sewerage holding systems to be compulsory on all craft above a stated length manufactured after 1997, setting water quality benchmarks and standards, continuation and where needed, in conjunction with the NSW State Government, expansion of the dredging program to allow navigation and improve tidal flush of the bays and tributaries, and remedies for the problems of Yowie Bay and Grey's Point in regards to siltation etc, these are also important and are also currently being examined by Council along with other authorities.

Councillor Byron Hurst

For me, as chairman of the Integrated Water Quality and Environment Committee, water quality is a major issue. We need and have started, at Council, to change our approach to this issue by taking a more holistic or catchment approach. We've had an emphasis of looking at the waterfront to find solutions to our problems. But we need to look at what's further upstream and higher up - at shopping centres and major inland developments.

We need to work with Sydney Water more closely and reduce sewerage surcharges. There are high coliform faecal counts at Gunnamatta Bay in both wet and dry weather. We also need to resolve the issue of sewerage for Bundeena and Maianbar. It is not right that a community in such an environment continues to have a polluting effect. There is a danger that the push for more intense urban development will occur in Bundeena and Maianbar should sewerage be connected to the communities. But this problem should be dealt with through other planning means.

The issue of Helensburgh needs to be resolved. It is most important that the State Government acquire the disputed land for incorporation in the Royal National Park and end the re-emergence of urban development plans.

We need to move to have pumpouts installed in all boats using the Hacking. Resolution of this issue is especially important to those who swim in the Port. We also need to do something about the numbers of moored boats in, especially, Gunnamatta Bay. These boats are a further source of pollution. There are a number that simply sit at their moorings and rot, adding to pollution and congestion in the process.

We also need to continue the installation program of Gross Pollutant Traps, such as the one installed in the Camellia gardens, and wetlands, such as the one installed in Engadine, and monitor their progress.

The new structure of the Integrated committee, incorporating a number of areas of Council concerns, should prove to be a more practical and successful means of managing environmental concerns. We should, hopefully, be able to use Bushcare groups to protect catchments as well as enhance the aesthetic environment of the Waterway.

Councillor Kevin Schreiber

The area is growing as a recreational area. We should endeavour to stop increased pollution by runoff - for example, install more gross pollutant traps. Council is currently on the right track. Perhaps we need to speed up the program. In addition, we should move to controlling the nuisance personal watercraft cause on the waters. Perhaps Council could work with Waterways Authority to reduce the speed of jetskis in the Port.

Councillor Paul Smith

Urban runoff - we must be more careful in our regulations of building design to minimise runoff and we need to prevent excessive and polluted stormwater runoff into the Port. The second issue is restoration of those areas that have been degraded, especially at the heads of Bays.

Councillor Phil Blight

Now that Council has achieved a long term State Government commitment to dredging of the entrance/navigation channels, Council must look at water quality issues. The previous Council's program of gross pollutant traps construction and stormwater controls must be continued and should be increased. Council could also look at dredging the heads of bays where human development has changed the natural state of the Ports.

Councillor Dawn Emerson

We need to stop problems before they become problems. For example put in gross pollutant traps, enforce measures to stop urban runoff, especially silt. Prevention is better than cure.

Future Directions

We asked Councillors:

What changes would you like to see with regard to the way Sutherland Shire Council is currently dealing with issues around Port Hacking?

Councillor Dawn Emerson

We are aware of the problems around Port Hacking. There is room for research in overcoming the problems. We can learn from others. We need to educate everyone: the public, Councillors and Council officers.

Councillor Kevin Schreiber

We need to have more information and input from boat owners, ferry owners, marine operators and use their expertise in our decision making. They work on the Port every day. In addition, we should seek to find ways of gaining more input from residents of the shores of the Hacking and the broader Shire to ensure that important issues are recognised and that the public is properly consulted on broader issues.

Councillor Lorraine Rodden (Mayor)

Council needs to continue to consolidate supervision of building and development sites as these are prime sources of a lot of the sediments which eventually reach Port Hacking, settling mainly in the heads of the bays.

Councillors: Andrew Hodson, David Redmond, Tom White, Steve Simpson, Brett Thomas, Jill Deering

Through the Planning and Advisory Committee and other sub-committees we are examining the benefits of a number of options with regards to improving our Port to the standard we once enjoyed. Some of the problems/options /actions currently being investigated by Council, staff and committees include:
  • Pollution of tributary creeks,

  • Soil erosion and sedimentation controls,

  • Investigation and where possible, prosecution, of sources of chemical/heavy metal pollution,

  • Enhancement of the dredging program,

  • New technology in filters, pollutant traps, and other environmental controls,

  • Additional provisions in the Shire's planning, development and building codes relating to environmental protection,

  • Collaboration with the SCC Group to utilise GIS technology to map environmental impacts on Ports, river systems and enclosed waters,

  • Investigation of indexing applications in regards to environmental impacts,

  • Forming partnerships with other associations to bring about changes and funding of initiatives from State and Federal government, for example, meetings have recently been held with the Sydney coastal Councils group, the EPA, Sydney Water, C.A.L.M. and NSW Waterways.

The above information is not exhaustive of all the work currently underway but we hope it indicates not only that your present Council administration considers the Plan of Management and the protection and enhancement of Port Hacking a priority, but also it demonstrates that we recognise and understand the emotional significance of Port Hacking to our Shire's identity.

Obviously, Council was thrilled to learn that the State Government had listened to our community and determined to upgrade the Kurnell STP to full tertiary treatment and investigate possible re-use markets. Council's Chief Environmental Scientist Dr Garry Smith, has some interesting concepts on that matter which will be examined by Council in coming months.

The upgrade will make a significant contribution to clean waterways but in isolation clearly is not the solution to all of the Port's difficulties, similarly, the inclusion of sewerage for Bundeena and Maianbar is also a significant step but it is only by a concerted program of actions that we can establish a lasting standard of care for the Port Hacking system. It is to establishing this lasting standard that the Council is committed.

The protection of the Port Hacking system and its rescue from 40 years of urbanisation without sufficient controls is one of the most important responsibilities we face in this term of Council and we assure you, it is a responsibility we face gladly and with a determination to make a lasting contribution to the state of the Port Hacking.

Councillor Byron Hurst

We need to look more closely at housing and waterfront development. Council should not just focus on the waterfront - the hidden developments are just as important - such as industrial area. Council's main focus has been on the aesthetic. We need now to look at the total space. The best approach may be to use the total floor-space argument to negotiate what can and cannot be built on aresidential block. Perhaps we need to make it a requirement for the care of native bushland and amenity rather than simply a requirement for landscaping.

Councillor Paul Smith

I would like to see more focus on the issues I mentioned above, especially now since dredging is out of the way.

Councillor Phil Blight

I am disappointed that the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee hasn't met since July 1995. The new Council is taking an attitude of laissez-faire, where their involvement is minimal and issues (and Council affairs) are run by staff. The lack of a committee mean that the community has no involvement in what is happening. I moved to set up this committee after the "Future for Port Hacking Conference" in 1992, and have chaired the committee for two years since. Without this committee being active, little will occur to improve Port Hacking.

PWCs in Port Hacking - Action!

Paul Martin, President, Port Hacking Protection Society.

Over the last few months PHPS has had many complaints about smaller powered vessels. Incidents reported to us have been:
  • jetskis "buzzing" small children (Cabbage Tree Point, Dharuk Park);

  • Nnight time usage without lights (Yowie Bay);

  • ski-boats operating within two metres of moored vessels (Binda Cove, Gymea Bay);

  • Powered vessels playing "chicken" with swimmers, canoeists, and swimmers (Gymea Bay, Grays Pt.);

  • Jetskis weaving between moored boats at dusk (Dolans Bay/Burranneer Bay)

  • use of the outboard engine of a powered vessel to 'plough' seagrass beds (Simpsons Bay, Gunnamatta Bay);

  • High speed use of 'tinnies', stern weighted, in restricted or swimming areas (Maianbar, Grays Point)

  • a PWC 'wave jumping' over the top of swimmers (Cabbage Tree Point);

  • PWCs operating for long periods directly in front of residential areas (Bundeena, Maianbar, Lilli Pilli, Gunyah and Jibbon Beaches);

  • PWCs and "tinnies" towing skiers through swimmers and swimming areas. (Horderns Beach).

  • PWCs competing with swimmers in heavily used swimming areas (Horderns Beach, Dharuk Park).

  • PWCs and 'tinnies' operating close to snorkellers and swimming children (Simpsons Bay, Horderns Beach, Cabbage Tree Point, Dharuk Park, Jibbon, Gunyah)

  • Aggressive confrontations between jetski users and others (Bundeena, Gunnamatta Bay, Port Hacking waterway).

Other issues, such as the impact of motors from small-powered vessels destroying seagrass beds, the ongoing noise effects, and the ineffectiveness of past policing were also highlighted. Serious allegations of threats of violence, intimidation, and drunkenness whilst in charge of powered vessels, were also mentioned (though these are of course unproven at this time).

Our action

We invited MSB Waterways (represented by Mr. Craig Whitmore), Sutherland Council (represented by Kevin Schreiber) and our member of State Parliament, Malcolm Kerr to discuss these issues with us.

A positive response

Waterways have shown good faith in acting quickly on the problem. A 'blitz' on irresponsible small vessel use in the Port was announced by the Minister, Mr. Scully, soon after the meeting. This action has involved at least three Waterways vessels. It will continue for some weeks.

If you have a problem, please ring the MSB Waterways Complaints Line on 131256, or 0418 460293 (Boating Officer). Even if they can't catch an offender, it will mean that the problems are noted for future reference. And could you let us know if the complaint is dealt with?

It was agreed that there should be a review of the controls over vessel usage within the Port, involving MSB Waterways, community input and Sutherland Shire Council. We have suggested that the best forum would be Sutherland Shire's Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee, which will hopefully soon be reactivated.

Your input

What do you think should be done to reduce the problems associated with smaller powered vessels? Should there be areas 'off limits'? in what areas? more policing? an absolute ban in Port Hacking? or no controls at all? Our aim is to make sure that any discussion is well informed, and takes into account the range of views that will exist.

Why not write to ... The Port Hacking Protection Society, PO Box 744, Sutherland or fax us on (02) 523 3680, and let us know what you think?

Stop Press

Bundeena Creek

For some time, members of the Bundeena Community, Sutherland Shire Council and the HRCMC have been looking at ways to enhance the functioning of the Bundeena Creek wetland. Bundeena Creek drains part of the township of Bundeena which is currently unsewered. During periods of drier weather, the coliform count in Bundeena Creek rises above recommended levels and there are outbreaks of algae. During prolonged wet weather or storms, the sand barrier on the eastern end of Hordern's Beach is breached and the creek flushes out.
Bundeena Creek

A consultant study for Bundeena Creek Flood management proposed that the creek be excavated to increase the storage volume so that the stormwater detention time would be increased and more nutrients could be removed by water plants (macrophytes). Sutherland Shire Council was granted $33,000 to carry out the works program under the Rivers Reborn Program. Works started but then Council found:

  • They couldn't achieve the required volume because the creek was too narrow

  • They couldn't excavate because that would undermine existing banks and retaining walls

  • The sediment in the creek bed is highly acid sulphate. Acid sulphate soils are ancient, organically rich soils deposited before the end of the last ice age. When they are disturbed by activities such as dredging, they are exposed to oxygen and turn to sulphuric acid.

Consequently, the problem of Bundeena Creek has been put back into the "this is difficult" basket and the EPA (who administers the EPA grant) has been asked by Council whether the money can be allocated to constructing a Gross Pollutant Trap at North Cronulla Beach and a trash rack, and to pathway and creek rehabilitation at Coonong Creek, Gymea Bay.

HRCMC targets Gorse Weed eradication

Gorse/Furze (Ulex europaeus) is a noxious weed that is becoming a problem in the Hacking River Catchment area. Gorse weed is a medium sized, many-branched shrub that grows to about two metres. The leaves are dark green and spiny. It produces bright yellow pea-like flowers all year round but its main flowering season is from July to October.
The Hacking River Catchment Management Committee (HRCMC) Chairman, Mr. Peter Wells said "Noxious weeds such as Gorse reduce the environmental quality of the catchment and also the value of land." Recently the Illawarra District Weeds Authority (IDWA) sprayed those areas with the worst gorse weed infestations. However the IDWA is unable to enter private land and private properties. If the IDWA notifies a resident of noxious weeds on their property they are obliged by law to remove it within 30 days. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to $10,000 or forced entry onto the property to remove the weed with the cost being charged to the landowner.

There are several ways of controlling Gorse:
  • Physically removing the plant, including the root system by digging it out, or bulldozing in larger areas;

  • Use of goats or sheep as control agents as these animals prefer new growth on Gorse to many pasture plants;

  • Treatment with herbicides such as Roundup (plus a surfactant) or Grazon Foliar Spray.

This last treatment is thought to be the most effective. The IDWA can remove noxious weeds for a fee. Mr Allan House of Helensburgh Landcare has offered to control this weed for landowners for free.

Mr Peter Wells noted that: "It is a generous and practical offer I hope landowners take up. If all the affected landholders in the area accept this offer, we could completely eradicate this weed from the catchment. In the long run if we are successful with this campaign, we hope to control other weed species.

Boats Wreaking Havoc on Dredging

Eight times in two months, boats on Port Hacking have ignored warning signs and ripped through dredging pumplines. Each time, dredging was brought to a halt so that damaged pipes could be emptied and repaired. Although the dredging contractor looks toward completion of dredging by the end of March, more rough conditions and mishaps would make a firm deadline impossible.

Dredging has already removed 27,000 cubic metres of sand from the Burraneer Point channel. A large dredge is now operating in the Bundeena channel, while a small one is dredging the Lilli Pilli channel. The Mayor, Councillor Lorraine Rodden said: "Bad weather is something over which we have no control. So we wish to warn boat owners plying Port Hacking about the dredging pumplines, and call on them to stay way clear of the line of buoys marking the pipeline, and definitely not to cross these lines.

Sediment Control

The Director of Environmental Services at Sutherland Shire Council reported that erosion from building sites and subsequent sedimentation of waterways is a major problem within the Sutherland Shire. Sometimes five to ten tonnes of soil can be lost per storm from each building site. This sediment runs into the heads of Bays, making navigation in these areas difficult and reducing the recreational and visual amenity of these areas. In addition, the benthic fauna is abraded and smothered and the sediment deposited along creeklines makes the areas prone to weed invasion, degrading bushland and reducing the environmental value of the creekline habitats.

To deal with the problems sediment causes, waterways require dredging to restore navigational channels, beaches and waterways require cleaning and sediment removal This has become an increasing problem at the heads of many bays, particularly in Port Hacking.

Council currently installs Gross Pollutant Traps to remove sediment from drainage system prior to discharge into the waterways. The Gross Pollutant Traps cost from $25,000 to $300,000 to install and then become a cleaning cost indefinitely. Weed control in bushland reserves also requires considerable Council expenditure.

By law, each construction site should have proper erosion controls in place. However, a recent study of twenty-seven construction sites showed twelve had no sediment or erosion controls in place, five had some but ineffective controls, four had made an effort but put in incorrect controls and only six had good controls.

The Director reported that Council Officers will soon have the power under the Clean Water Act to issue on the spot fines of $600 for breaches of the Act due to ineffective erosion and sediment controls on site. Council is currently working at putting together an information brochure for the building industry to educate it on installing proper sediment controls on building sites.

Council at Work - Sutherland Shire

Council will start the construction of the second Engadine Gross Pollutant Trap in June 1996.

The completed artificial wetland and Gross Pollutant Trap at the entrance of Engadine has been very successful. There have been macrophytes planted and the site is proving to be a very good fauna habitat.

Litter grates will be placed in locations in the Shire swept by Council workers (Caringbah and Kirrawee Shopping Centres). The rubbish can then be swept into an area and collected.

Signage has been placed at some significant areas within the catchment. The signs show the creek name, Sutherland Shire Council name and a slogan (Keep out water clean). There are still lots of tributaries that do not have names, let alone signs.

A Blitz on PWCs

A cheer was raised from many on the waterside of Port Hacking when Mr. Carl Scully, the Minister for Ports ordered that the nuisance of personal water crafts (such as Jetskis) be curbed. Waterways Authority officers began a three-week blitz on irresponsible users in the middle of March. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on March 23, in the first week of the blitz forty-one riders in Port Hacking and the Georges River were pulled over for riding too close to swimmers, breaching speed or noise limits, or being unlicensed. According to information PHPS received from the Waterways Authority (published in Protectorate November 1995), only forty-seven watercraft users were pulled over in Port Hacking for the whole of 1995. Admittedly, this number relates to only watercraft using Port Hacking but includes actions taken against all watercraft users, not just PWC users. If nothing else, the blitz demonstrates the magnitude of the problem. Something the regulatory authorities were unable to estimate from their normal routine patrols.

Anti-Jetski Rally

Bundeena-Bonnie Vale Beach (Royal National Park)

SUNDAY MAY 19 (1996), 12 noon

This will be the first of ongoing rolling rallies. These gatherings will enable the ever-increasing mass of people so adversely affected by the insensitive, wastefully polluting and increasing abuse by jetskiers to express their anger. In many countries the use of jetskis has been extensively restricted and in some countries they have been banned years ago.

If you have a canoe, sailboard, surfski or small sailboat, bring it to the rally!

Organised by the PADDLERS FOR PEACE (and quiet)
top of page