Below is a speech sent to administrator Dick Persson by a resident who hopes to address the council tomorrow night:
Mr Persson and executives,
In 2015, a massive infestation of aquatic weeds invaded a pocket of wetland that locals call Springfield Pond Wetland. It is an old farm dam that became part of the subdivision but has existed since the 1960s and so is well established as a wetland and part of one of very few remaining wildlife corridors between Rumbalara and Erina Ck.
The corridor is used by a growing number of Swamp Wallabies and is a haven for many birds especially during fires and drought. In fact, only recently a Black Swan was seen swimming in the wetland but to our horror we saw it had a fishing lure and line through its beak. This wetland is a haven or sanctuary that they can rely on for safety.
When the former Gosford Council started to investigate it turned out, much to everyone’s astonishment, that only around half the wetland (weir end) was in Council ownership and that the upstream half belonged to an adjacent 4ha parcel owned by a developer.
What started with identification of one weed ended up being 3 very aggressive weeds almost certainly resulting from an aquarium dump.
Salvinia Molesta blanketed the whole wetland but Council’s Weeds Officer quickly identified tall expanses of Ludwigia Peruviana and later I discovered a 3rd weed which was identified as Ludwigia Repens.
Salvinia doubles in size every 2-3 days in hot weather. Once it blankets the wetland it just gets thicker. Salvinia is a WoNS – Weed of National Significance – the highest classification and in the top 5 most noxious aquatic weeds in the world.
Peruviana has destroyed almost 34 ha of Botany Wetlands.
Repens has only one other outbreak in NSW which was in Lane Cove River and is an ongoing issue there. It forms dense mats of groundcover which wallabies can hop across without it even budging.
These are extremely aggressive weeds and there is a massive risk of spread to other waterbodies on the Central Coast.
Council followed the recommended strategies of introducing Salvinia weevils but without success, so had to resort to herbicide and mechanical methods. Thanks to a $125k grant from MP for Terrigal Adam Crouch, the public half has undergone a massive transformation and is looking great again.
But the owner of the private section did not elect to cooperate with Council when they had the massive machinery working swiftly and effectively and he has not taken any action to address his responsibilities (both legal and moral as far as residents are concerned) and so a yellow boom is the only thing holding back almost 4000 sq m of dense weed. There have been a couple of breaches which Council has urgently responded to and addressed but this is in no way a solution.
We were under the impression an order was placed on the owner and that solicitors were involved but despite months turning into years, still nothing has happened.
Residents want urgent action on this matter. The cleared section is making a wonderful recovery but that is bittersweet to see, because we know that when the other half is eventually done then the regrowing native aquatic grasses, reeds and water lilies will just provide a haven for the noxious weeds to hide in and proliferate all over again.
We regularly report to, and have the support of Springfield Residents Association as well as the wider community who appreciate the value and importance of the smaller pockets that remain.
It is not an exaggeration or alarmist to say that the whole wetland is at risk of being totally consumed by weed again and all that money and resources being wasted.
Residents want to know
- what action against the private owner has been undertaken?
- the permitted timeframe for management of these weeds per the Biosecurity Act 2015
- why Council can’t just go ahead and carry out the necessary work and pass the bill to the owner?
Part of the grant from the State Govt provided for 18 months of ongoing maintenance contract to address any ongoing weed issues so that they don’t get a hold again however this expires in about May. This has been incredibly important in stopping the weeds rapidly invading again.
We believe the only hope of success is for the owner to also be ordered to fund another 18 month contract following the works on the private section being done, to have any hope of long term success.
Local residents work tirelessly to try to keep the wetland as healthy as possible, but it is an unfair impost for them to have years more of dealing with weeds that should have been managed years ago.
Context of this issue can be seen:
The first 2 minutes of this clip gives an overview of the works Council carried out. Springfield Pond Wetland Transitioning (final minute is wildlife only)
This clip is an overview of 2020 . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW0qE3oGKwo
– by Glenys Ray, Springfield resident