Lake Hugh Muntz has again been closed due to high algae levels.
As this is now the 4th consecutive annual closure, clearly the lake is approaching a critical point of no return. Urgent action needs to be a priority.
The current unedited Google Earth photo highlights the appalling condition of LHM compared to other waterways.
The unchecked deterioration of the lake over many years has led to the current critical state of this once unique community asset. With the lakes ongoing poor condition, unfortunately it seems these closures will continue.
The photo below from 2012 shows how long the ongoing deterioration of the lake has been an issue, compared to other waterways.
The latest water quality results show an increase in Algae levels after the weekend rain.
There are many contributing factors that can cause an increase but based on observations over the weekend, clearly ongoing Catchment Management Issues are having a negative effect on water quality. Considering many of these issues have remained unresolved for years, the question has to be asked “why hasn’t Council taken action” to reduce the negative impact of these problems?
The Care Group will continue to raise these issues and have produced a video (below)highlighting just some of the ongoing problems.
The recent downpour again highlights the ongoing problem of lawn clippings flowing directly from parks into the lake.
Despite numerous requests to Council to take action to reduce the inflow, no effective action has been taken. How long have we been asking? 9 long years!
In 2011, Cr Sarroff indicated in a newsletter that Council are looking into Vegetation Buffers, unfortunately we are still waiting!
Vegetation buffers strategically placed in parks and along the foreshore have the potential to slow down water flow, reduce erosion and capture clippings. It is important that both Council and residents maintain lawn in a good condition and mow with a catcher.
Check out the video below showing just a sample of clippings now polluting our lake!
3 weeks ago the Care Group requested a meeting directly with park officials due to lack of action by Engineering in addressing numerous issues raised.
In April 2019, Engineering were asked to investigate the issues highlighted in the recent rain event with a video supplied in the post Catchment Management Issues -Parks with no action.
At the Stakeholder meeting in September 2019, again issues relating to lack of even basic park maintenance were raised and ignored with no action.(further info below)
10 months on, these same issues are still causing severe problems in the current rain event. large amounts of lawn clippings and soil have ended up in the lake. It is the soil washed from the shore that adds Phosphorus to the lake waters and threatens to compromise the effect of the 100k Phoslock treatment.
Basic Park Maintenance Neglected.
Numerous large trees have been removed from several areas around the lake. Not only have no suitable replacement trees been planted but not even basic maintenance has been carried out. large areas of bare dirt have been left exposed for months waiting for the next heavy rain. See the negative effects of erosion into the lake that could of been avoided!
The Care Group have raised concern that it could be many years before any improvements are realised and have raised questions to clarify. Please see Care Group questions and Councils reply highlighted below;
Council to undertake multi criteria assessment on report recommendations including feasibility, cost etc. How long?
Once Griffith University’s experiments and report are completed in June 2020, officers will then commence the multi criteria analysis process on recommendations from the report to determine the feasibility, environmental & social considerations and associated costs of potential options. This will likely take a number of weeks to complete.
Funding for proposed works. Is funding available for proposed works? If not when? With the report due in July after the annual budget will action be delayed another year due to no dedicated funding?
Funding for the ongoing maintenance of all city lakes including Lake Hugh Muntz exists. If an option from Griffiths work is considered feasible, a business case will be submitted for consideration justifying the reasons for the extra budget above what has already been allocated for maintenance activities.
Implementation of sand capping. How Long?
Sand capping is an option being investigated by our Griffith experts however as previously explained to the Care Group the option needs to be assessed through a multi criteria analysis before being considered for a lake application.
Griffith Report indicates monitoring effectiveness of sand before a possible Phoslock treatment. How long for monitoring?
As stated above the sand capping option is being investigated and dependent on a multi criteria assessment. In regards to the duration of monitoring required if the option was considered feasible, we will request Griffith to provide some indicative timing.
There has been reports of 2 individuals casing or scoping waterfront properties taking photos etc from the lake side. One of the individuals was easily recognised with bleach blonde hair on the top of his head. With the low level of the lake at the moment, security on the lake side of properties is compromised. In the past, SUP’s and other water craft have also been stolen so I would suggest securing all water craft and ensure your properties are secure at all times!
If you should happen to see anyone suspicious accessing properties from the waterside please report this to your local police station.
One important note: Council are surveying the shoreline all next week and will hopefully be wearing Council uniforms!
Please see update from Council indicating a possible 4th consecutive year of lake closures due to algae outbreaks!
We would like to use our first update of 2020 to remind you that the Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a hotter than normal summer. This may have implications for water quality in Lake Hugh Muntz. It is difficult to predict the timings of algal blooms and how long they will last. We heard from Griffith University at our latest Lake Hugh Muntz Stakeholder Meeting that lower than average rainfall and higher temperatures may increase the likelihood of a blue-green algae bloom this season. While the City monitors water quality weekly, you should still be on the lookout for changes in water quality and not enter the water if you notice the following;
scums across the surface of the lake, or
changes in water colour.
Exposure to blue-green toxins can occur through;
swallowing affected water
putting your head under water (swimming, canoe capsizing), or
direct water contact with the skin, including sensitive areas such as the ears, eyes, mouth and nose.
Cyanobacteria Biovolume – 2 January 2020
The below graph compares the average cyanobacteria biovolume at four test locations over the same time period (Nov-Jan) for the last few years. The graph shows that in previous years (the yellow and blue lines) cyanobacteria volumes generally increase during this time of year. Not all blue green algae are toxic and the City monitors for both Total Blue Green Algae (BGA) and Potentially Toxic Algae (PTA), providing health warnings depending on the biovolume of both types.
Current Water Level
The City has received a number of enquiries regarding the current low water level in the lake. The lake has experienced low levels in the past, during the millennium drought and during a period of low rainfall in 2007. The lake is topped up during rainfall events so with the predicted dry summer season, lake levels may remain low for some time.
Monitoring survey of the Lake Hugh Muntz foreshore
The City is preparing to carry out a monitoring survey of the Lake Hugh Muntz foreshore while water levels are low. City Surveyors will be collecting data around the whole of the lake including the foreshore area adjacent to private properties.
The works are scheduled to begin on Monday 13/1/2020 and will be completed by Friday 17/1/2020.
Griffith University Research
This month Griffith University will be on the water in a research boat undertaking a water quality and sediment survey. The survey will provide further data about phosphorus levels in the sediment and water column during the warmer months. This information will be used to help assess how some management options will perform against algal blooms.