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Today I received the following email from Gayle Adams, the Water Quality Co-ordinator for the Cooks River Valley Association.
“On Saturday 1 December around 3:30 pm with the tide halfway out, one of our keen-eyed members reported seeing a great number of dead fish near the bridge over the Cooks River at Illawarra Road/Homer Street.
Have you seen dead fish in large numbers in the River lately? Or something you think might be related? If so, please let us know by return email so we can accurately log this latest fish kill.
The last major fish kill in the Cooks that I am aware of was November 2008 which we think was mullet adversely affected by a toxic discharge from the stormwater drain at Younger Avenue Earlwood. But fish kills can happen due to ‘natural’ causes. It looks like oxygen levels in the River were very low in the days before last Saturday & Saturday itself was very hot.”
If you have seen something, please contact Gayle at email@example.com
Recently I was sent emails with news articles about the vandalized & dying mangroves near Lang Road Canterbury opposite Ewan Park on the Cooks River, but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I went for a bike ride last weekend.
As I stood there surveying around 50-metres of dying & dead mangroves I wondered how would you go about killing them. It would have to be a low tide where you would pour litres of pesticide onto them killing the thousands, if not millions of little mud crabs & other creatures that live in the mud & the mangroves themselves. Then the tide would rise taking the pesticide further into the ecosystem probably killing as it travelled. Perhaps the pesticide leached out of the mud where it was poured over two or three tides or perhaps the vandal poured pesticide over the mangroves over a few consecutive low tides. Whichever way, it must have been a lethal, yet invisible force moving through the river.
Then I wondered just how many fish were caught & taken back for the family dinner while the toxin was moving through the river?
This vandalism to the mangroves was a phenomenally ignorant & harmful act to the river & whoever did this must have no respect for the environment. To them the river ecology must be something to be contained & controlled whatever the cost. Neither would they would not respect the hard work done by the volunteers of Mudcrabs & the Cooks River Valley Association, who have been working to improve the river for many years, including this section of the riverbank.
According to an article in the Canterbury Bankstown Express, if the vandal were caught they could be fined up to $110,000, plus up to $11,000 per saltmarsh plant. See -
What do you do in this situation? Replant the mangroves? Maybe plant some trees along here as well? Keep doing it until the vandal gives up? I don’t know, but I do know that doing nothing makes the vandal a winner & the river, the wildlife & ultimately the community miss out because of one or perhaps two people.
I went down to Steel Park for the Cooks River Valley Association Cash for Containers event at lunchtime today. It was a beautiful day & also a beautiful place to have an event – on the bank of the Cooks River walking among the fallen leaves from the Poplar trees that define this park. I love dappled shade & for some reason, it makes me feel good.
Lots of people attended & happy kids with homemade fishing lines were fishing for strings of bottles floating in the Cooks River. It was a relaxed atmosphere with people coming for a while before moving on. Three gigantic Coke bottles were also floating in the river sending a powerful message not easy to ignore. While I was there the tide changed so we had the usual stream of floating plastic drink bottles floating past. It would be great not to have plastic bottles polluting the river one day soon.
Many aluminum cans were exchanged for a 10-cent refund per can so there are likely to be some happy kids who got a pocket money bonus this week. I thought it was very good for other park users to see a community group putting on an event that addresses litter that both pollutes the environment & the Cooks River itself.
Unfortunately I missed Captain Cook in full dress arrive at Steel Park by boat & greet the federal Environment Minister Tony Burke. The media attended & I just watched a good segment on the event on ABC1 News.
There were stalls, petitions to sign & information to take away. Volunteers had spent a great deal of time stringing plastic bottles together to make signs. These looked terrific glinting in the sun.
One family had made a boat out of plastic bottles, onion bags & plastic bread trays. This was successfully launched on the river with a brave woman aboard.
The Cooks River Valley Association did well & created a relaxed, fun event that provided education to those who attended & those who were passing by. It’s not easy to make litter something to which people want to pay attention.
Some facts about the benefits of a Cash for Containers program from literature I picked up today. It will -
- “Reduce the amount of litter found in streets & parks & waterways by almost 20% (by volume)
- Increase the recycling of bottles & cans by over 650,000 tonnes per annum
- A saving of over $32 million in current local government waste & recycling services
- Reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by over 1.3 million tones of CO2 per annum
- Reduce landfill waste by 6%”
State & federal environment ministers are due to meet mid-year to decide on a National Container Deposit Scheme. You can help the campaign by going to the Cooks River Valley Association –
www.crva.org <– Sorry, this link doesn’t work, this one does –>
NOTE 25th may 2012: See comment below by Judy Pincus about going to the Boomerang Alliance website instead of the Cooks River Valley Association. Thanks J
“Australians consume drinks in over 12 billion containers a year. Only half of these are recycled, mostly collected via kerbside & much less, away from home (food halls, events, public spaces). The other half are littered or landfilled representing a big waste of resources. A CDS (Container Deposit Scheme) has been proven worldwide to be the best way to increase collection & recycling. South Australia has had a CDS for over 30 years & now the Northern Territory will have one in 2011. It would increase recovery to 80% – over 4 billion extra containers a year.” ~ Boomerang Alliance
We all know that litter in the Cooks River is a massive problem that is impacting on the health of the river & the wildlife that live here.
Local community group the Cooks River Valley Association (CRVA), along with the Total Environment Centre are doing something about this problem. They have organized a great event to highlight the litter along the Cooks River & also to lobby the Environment Ministers to support a nationwide packaging regulation. The regulation will include a Container Deposit Scheme that gives a 10-cent refund on each returned drink bottle & aluminum can. The Environment Ministers will be making a decision about the regulation in June 2012 so now is the time to tell them what we want.
The Ca$h-for-Containers event is supported by both Marrickville Council & the City of Canterbury Council & will be held on –
- Saturday 28th April 2012
- 11am – 2pm
- Steel Park, Illawarra Road Marrickville South
Activities include –
- World’s Biggest Coke Float
- Bev the Bottle
- Put a message in a bottle for the Environment Ministers
- Information & petitions to sign
- Free food & drink – you will need to bring your own reusable cup & plate.
- Prizes for the best model plastic bottle boats. CRVA are asking that you make one at home & bring it along on the day.
- Please start collecting plastic & aluminum beverage bottles & cans & bring them along to the Cooks River Demonstration Recycling Depot at Steel Park to collect your 10-cent cash refunds to experience how the Container Deposit Scheme will work. Let’s create a Cooks Mountain of bottles!
Containers collected at this event & other events, as well as the best of the model plastic bottle boats, will be taken to Canberra for a rally at Parliament House on 23 May 2012. The boats will be sailed on Lake Burley Griffin or on the lawn of Parliament House.
You can find out more about the Container Deposit Scheme at the Boomerang Alliance website here - www.boomerangalliance.org.au You can send an e-letter to Tony Burke, Minister for the Environment here -
You can also watch this fabulous video talking about the campaign & showing our Cooks River & the plastic bottle pollution here –
If you are interested in helping prepare & promote this event as well as helping on the day please contact Judy - firstname.lastname@example.org 0414 910 816
I recently received the following email from Gayle Adams who is the Water Quality Coordinator for the Cooks River Valley Association (CRVA).
“CRVA has been testing the water quality in the Cooks River for 4 years. In general, water quality is poor with low dissolved oxygen levels, high phosphate & high faecal bacteria indicating sewage contamination. Faecal bacteria levels are often too high for safe swimming & boating.
This is the case in both wet weather – as might be expected when stormwater surges flood the sewers & they overflow into the river – & in dry weather. Recent research by Dr Stuart Khan & Mr Philippe Laou at the UNSW found concentrations of human pharmaceuticals in the River that are consistent with raw sewage.
This led to the conclusion that at times the Cooks River is ‘an open sewer.’ A number of articles appeared in newspapers about this issue.”
The Cooks River Valley Association is asking for the community’s help by doing any or all of the following –
Open & print the attached petition to the NSW Parliament requesting government action to limit sewage flows into the Cooks River. Collect signatures from friends & family. You can contact CRVA to arrange a collection of your signatures or mail directly to them.
Write or email your local MP. Hon Carmel Tebbutt MP, Member for Marrickville - 244 Marrickville Road Marrickville NSW 2204 email@example.com
Hon Linda Burney MP, Member for Canterbury - Suites 201 & 202, Level 2, 308-312 Beamish Street Campsie NSW 2194 firstname.lastname@example.org
Write or email Premier Barry O’Farrell. Hon Barry O’Farrell MP, Premier of NSW - GPO Box 5341 Sydney NSW 2001 email@example.com
CRVA would appreciate knowing what you have done so could you please bc of any of your emails or a send them a copy of any letters as this will allow them to gauge the community’s response & support.
You can download the petition here – Sewage Petition To help write any correspondence you can download the sewerage report here – Sewage Report & the UNSW media release here - CooksRiver_UNSWMediaRelease_24October2011_FINAL
The Cooks River Valley Association got some much-needed attention to their ongoing work to try & clean up the Cooks River yesterday. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald spoke about research done on the water quality by researchers at the University of NSW.
The researchers found, “pharmaceuticals including paracetamol, ibuprofen & ingredients from aspirin tablets along with trace elements of soaps, caffeine, insect repellent & household cosmetics. The surprising thing is that there is no sewage treatment plant anywhere along the river. This tells us that the sewers are constantly broken & leaking all along the river. The fact the chemicals were present at dry times as well as during periods of heavy rainfall indicate the problem was one of constant leakage rather than occasional overflows.”
I remember the shock I felt in a Council Meeting when a member of the community addressing the Councillors mentioned that faecal bacteria is often found in the Cooks River. He said that many of the old sewerage pipes in the area are cracked or broken & that they leak raw sewerage all the time. What you put down your sink or toilet at home does reach the Cooks River, as does everything that goes down stormwater drains. Even as far away as Newtown the stormwater catchment heads toward the Cooks River.
Community group, the Cooks River Valley Association, perform a number of activities that care for the river. Volunteers are always welcome to join in on regular bush regeneration work with Mudcrabs & for Streamwatch who regularly test & monitor the water quality from a number of sites along the river. Full training & ongoing support is given to Streamwatch volunteers.
There is also Cooks Eye, another part of the monitoring of the river. ‘Cooks Eye’ refers to the community as they are the one’s most likely to notice pollution in or near the river & help catch it early. The Cooks Eye posters are all the way along the Cooks River from the Alexandra Canal in Tempe Reserve & down towards Hurlstone Park & have phone numbers of who to contact if you see any pollution in the river. I became a ‘poster gal’ for Cooks Eye a while ago. This means that I look after an area of the Cooks River & check to see that the posters are still there, aren’t vandalized & replace them when necessary. This is such an easy volunteer job & more people are needed to help with this.
We can all do something to help the Cooks River, whether it is being careful not to put anything down our drains that shouldn’t go there or joining one of the volunteer groups that actively work to improve the river environment & water quality. Everything we do to help the river helps all the wildlife that lives on the river. Contact details for The Cooks River Valley Association are on the blogroll on the left of this page.
Another article on the subject by ABC news –
The Canterbury Aboriginal Advisory Group, the Cooks River Valley Association & Canterbury Council have organized the Two Valley Trail Reconciliation Walk on Sunday 18th September 2011.
The walk will recognize & celebrate the role that Aboriginal people, past & present, have played in caring for the country of the Cooks River Valley & the Wolli Valley.
The walk is broken into 2 sections of Wolli Creek & 4 sections along the Cooks River allowing people to join any of the sections & leave when they like or participate in the whole walk. This is a great idea as it makes it much easier for people with health or time restrictions to be able to participate.
THE WOLLI VALLEY WALK -
- 1st section meets at 10am at Girrahween Park. To get to the meeting place you need to either enter the car park above the park from St James Avenue or Joy Avenue Earlwood & walk down the steps or walk in from Fauna Street Earlwood.
- 2nd section meets at 11am at Turrella Reserve. The closest street is Finlays Avenue Earlwood.
THE COOKS RIVER WALK –
- 1st section meets at 10.15am at Lees Park. The nearest street is Brighton Avenue Croydon Park.
- 2nd section meets at 10.30am at Mary MacKillop Park. The nearest cross streets are Fore Street & Canterbury Road Canterbury.
- 3rd section meets at 10.45am at Ewen Park. The nearest cross streets are Smith Avenue & Tennent Parade Hurlstone Park.
- 4th section meets at 11.15am at Steele Park. The nearest cross streets are Illawarra Road & Wharf Road Marrickville.
BARBEQUE LUNCH AT GOUGH WHITLAM RESERVE –
- At approximately 11.30am participants from both walks will meet at Gough Whitlam Reserve Bayview Avenue Earlwood for a free barbeque. There will be Indigenous & environmental themed activities for children & families.
- At 12.30pm there will be an Acknowledgement of Country as part of a short official program.
The barbeque & Acknowledgement of Country program is open to everyone, & you do not need to participate on the walks to attend. However, bookings are essential for catering purposes.
Numbers are limited on both walks & bookings are essential. Registration forms are available online on the Cooks River Valley Association website – www.crva.org.au Inquiries phone 0414 910 816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Community group Tempe 2010 is holding a peaceful protest walk against the RTA’s ‘road to nowhere’ to help save the Tempe Wetlands, Tempe Reserve & the Cooks River. SoT is also very concerned about the resulting loss of many trees if this project goes ahead. The walk starts at the park on South Street Tempe & finishes behind the Newtown Jets in Tempe Reserve where the RTA is holding a community information day until 2pm.
- tomorrow Saturday 20th February 2010
- @ 11 am
Plenty of time to participate in this event before attending ‘Sustainability Street by Street’ which is to be launched in Marrickville. The goal of the project is to show how to make a street more people-friendly & pleasant while improving water management & green space. The Project is about working together on a local street level to reduce & slow polluted storm water from rushing down to the Cooks River when it rains. The Project looks at ways of using the storm water to water gardens, how communal & shared gardens could be developed, how pavement space could be turned into native gardens or food gardens.
Come & listen to a presentation by Libby Gallagher, who co-presented the ‘Proposition Marrickville’ at the Re-Inventing out Streets Conversation which caused quite a stir in July Last year. Richard McManus from Equatica will present a session on WSUD at both a street & property level. See Wiki Web-site for more information:
- tomorrow Saturday 20th February 2010 @ 1-4 pm
- Marrickville West Public School Library
- RSVP – Catriona ph: 9559 3660 or 0435 021 449 email@example.com
Then there will be the Project Launch with stalls providing advice on worm farming, rainwater tanks etc & gauging interest in sharing gardens, pavement gardens (veggie verges) & more.
- Saturday 6th March 2010 @ 1 pm
- Louisa Lawson Reserve, Harnett Ave Marrickville
- RSVP – Catriona ph: 9559 3660 or 0435 021 449 firstname.lastname@example.org
Three days later the Cooks River Valley Association, Wolli Creek Preservation Society & City of Canterbury City Library present Professor Heather Goodall speaking about her recent book Rivers & Resilience, the story of the Aboriginal people who have used (& continue to use) the Georges River area as home & hideout from the time of European settlement until the present day. This fascinating account also provides insights & glimpses into the Aboriginal history of the Cooks River valley & Wolli Creek. There will be a display of archival photographs & maps.
- Tuesday 9th March @ 6 pm
- Campsie Library - Amy Street, Campsie (ground level of Campsie Centre)