Bargara residents, sick of the sight and stench of fish deaths and algae blooms in Moneys Creek, have come up with solutions to improve the lagoon’s water quality but been knocked back at every turn.
They have formed the Moneys Creek Action Group to address the problems after six major reports over the past 14 years at a cost of about $250,000 and virtually none of the recommendations implemented.
Over the past year, the group has developed proposal Moneys Creek Time for Action for consideration by the Federal Government, Queensland State Government and the Bundaberg Regional Council.
The group believes that if implemented, it would greatly improve the water quality within the lagoon and create an environment that would enhance the lagoon’s value for the whole community to enjoy.
The action group’s unofficial leader, Don Smith, said Moneys Creek Lagoon would normally be the responsibility of the State Government, but due to a survey quirk was actually owned by the Bargara Golf Club, while Bundaberg Regional Council operated the sluice gates.
He said that agricultural and urban flood runoff, beyond the control of the Bargara Golf Club, led to water quality problems in the lagoon.
”It is unclear who is to fix these problems and all levels of government consider it is someone else’s responsibility, so nothing happens,” Mr Smith said.
”We forwarded the information off to the Department of Environment and Science (DES) because at the end of the day, they’re the ones that are going to control what happens.
”They came back and said ‘we’ve noted your recommendations and recommend you go to the Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG) and they will be able to assist you’.
”We dealt with the BMRG, who have been helpful with us in the past, and the CEO referred us to Gavin Steele, the environmental officer at Bundaberg Regional Council (BRC).
”We forwarded our recommendations to him, had conversations over a period of time and he was going to instigate a meeting so we could try and advance things
Jim Mobbs, a retired hydrographer with the Department of Natural Resources and Thomas McShane, a retired environmental scientist with the CSIRO and the Department of Natural Resources, are both part of the action group and have developed three projects in the Moneys Creek Time for Action document.
The first is to create wetlands and a fresh water storage on the northern arm feeding Moneys Creek Lagoon.
The wetlands is proposed to clean and polish urban runoff, by trapping sediment and removing nutrients from both the golf club land and the housing estates.
The second is to construct a bund wall across the northern inflow arm to separate fresh water coming down the modified pathway from the brackish/salt water contained in the lagoon.
The third project is to cycle seawater through the lagoon, with a pump located adjacent to the causeway.
A BRC spokesperson said Bargara Golf Club president Dave Wilkinson provided a presentation to the council on 15 March, to advise council that the golf club had partnered with BMRG to engage a consultant to undertake a water management plan.
and the council advised him it had partnered with BMRG to engage a consultant to undertake a water management plan for the course and its interaction with Moneys Creek.
”This work was suggested in the recent study prepared by private consultancy, Alluvium, which was funded by the Queensland Government to look at the options for restoration of Moneys Creek,” the spokesperson said.
”This current project initiated by the Bargara Golf Club will dictate the projects to be undertaken and prioritised, for which funding opportunities can then be pursued.
”Council is committed to working with the golf club, which is the owner of the land, in addition to other stakeholders.”
Mr Wilkinson said the club was committed to improving water quality.
”We welcome the support of any stakeholder that seeks a similar outcome through practical and environmentally sensitive solutions,” he said.
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett said the LNP pledged $300,000 at last year’s State Election towards rehabilitating the waterway to restore the creek’s ability to provide drainage to surrounding wetlands, but the State Government hadn’t come to the party.
”This environmental embarrassment has been plaguing Bargara residents for far too long,” Mr Bennett said.
”Regular fish deaths and algae blooms at Moneys Creek understandably cause great distress for locals and despite constant calls for help and numerous detailed reports produced over the years, little has been progressed in terms of solutions.
”There is simply no excuse why this work has stalled for so long and quite frankly, the community has been treated like second-class citizens by the State Government.”
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said: “Issues with Moneys Creek have been ongoing for many years, however it is a State Government responsibility.”
“Bargara Golf Club received funding from the Community Environment Program to undertake mitigation of water flows to Moneys Lagoon.”
Mr Smith added that even though the Golf Club had no control over the storm water entering the lagoon, it still paid BRC rates on the lagoon site.
”For its part, and to its credit, the golf club has instigated every effort to date to find a solution to the problem but lacks the financial resources to undertake remedial work,” Mr Smith said.
”The next step is to engage and get some sort of commitment from all levels of government to say, yes we know it’s a problem, we really want to fix and we are going to do our best to help out.
”If the support is not forthcoming, after 14 years of doing this, I’ve had enough.”
A DES spokesperson said the department had responded to proposals from Moneys Creek Time for Action regarding water quality at Moneys Creek Lagoon.
“DES advised the group that while the department often works with stakeholders to provide advice on water quality issues, the on-ground management of the matters raised, such as stormwater run-off, nutrient run-off from adjacent urban recreation activities, and the upper catchment activities, do not fall under the department’s responsibilities,” they said.
“DES has previously met with Bundaberg Regional Council and other stakeholders on the underlying issues with Moneys Creek Lagoon and is available to further discuss issues and possible solutions.”