Orara residents call for action on threats to environment
A CREEK drained dry and a fish kill in the Orara Valley are just the tip of the iceberg concerned residents warn, and they're calling on the State Government to act.
Clearing of mature trees in the area has also angered many.
In each case, locals had to ring around various departments from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Department of Primary Industry (DPI) through to Coffs Harbour City Council.
In September last year residents noticed a number of dead fish at Coldwater Creek, Nana Glen and a member of a local Landcare group with knowledge of how the system works was able to submit a fish kill report.
The Advocate has obtained a copy of correspondence in relation to the report which shows Boscalid in the water, which is one of two active components in the fungicide Pristine, used commonly on blueberries and there is an adjacent farm.
A spokesperson for the DPI has confirmed that Coffs Harbour City Council undertook water quality sampling at the site which indicated critical low dissolved oxygen levels and traces of the fungicide Boscalid.
"The EPA determined that the levels of Boscalid were below concentrations that would be harmful to aquatic organisms.
"Given this advice from the EPA, and the water quality results provided by Council, DPI has determined that the suspected cause of this fish kill was critically low dissolved oxygen levels," a DPI spokesperson said.
Responding to concerns about a number of fish kills in the region in recent months Professor Isaac Santos from the Southern Cross University National Marine Science Centre said there are three main factors at play.
"They are due to a combination of heat, lack of rain and nitrogen run-off from farms," Prof Santos said.
With pesticide run off also in the mix, the community is growing increasingly alarmed.
Many have contacted independent candidate in this Saturday's state election Dr Sally Townley, who has long campaigned for tougher regulation of the industry, to see what can be done.
She has seen the test results in relation to the Coldwater Creek fish kill.
"Boscalid is a fungicide used in blueberry production and is known to be toxic to fish. There is a blueberry farm directly upstream. This was not a minor event, dead fish were found over a stretch of two kilometres.
"How many more fish kills will it take until the State government takes responsibility? At what point will these pollution incidents be brought to account? The waterways of Coffs are being compromised and there is deafening silence from the Coalition government."
In addition to fish kills some residents in the valley fear water resources are being compromised.
Jerry and Rachel Landrigan have noticed a stretch of Dundoo Creek, in the Orara catchment, has run completely dry in recent weeks.
"A short wander up the dry creek bed lead to the discovery of a 6 foot high dirt wall damming Dundoo Creek," Rachel posted on social media.
Jerry has reported it to the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) who have advised they will investigate within the next 10 days.
"NRAR takes all reports of possible non-compliance seriously and can confirm a report was received today regarding works on the waterway at Dundoo Creek. The report will be investigated," an NRAR spokesperson said on Tuesday.
"If a breach is detected, NRAR takes a graduated and proportionate approach to non-compliance, based on the severity of the impact on the environment and potential harm to people or property, and the regulated entity's culpability, cooperation and approach to the non-compliance," the spokesperson said.
"NRAR delivers a fair, transparent and enforceable water compliance system aimed at preventing water theft and improving voluntary compliance."
The community is reminded to report any observations of fish kills to Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or any water compliance breaches to The Natural Resources Access Regulator on1800 633 632.