Council are undertaking weed control and planting at Otway Park over the coming weeks. Works will include the removal of an undesirable aquatic plant species from the lake’s edge and planting of plants that contribute to water quality outcomes along the foreshore. The work will also focus on removing vines and reducing sediment runoff to improve general ecosystem health. Works to stabilise the large bare areas of soil are scheduled for the next financial year when further funds are available.
Looks like La Nina has had a positive effect. The increased cloud cover and the resultant drop in temperature and strong winds have resulted in algae levels dipping below closure level for the past few weeks. With the level still high any prolonged unfavourable conditions can result in another lake closure.
Council have now added toxin concentration to the graph. Previously the lake remained closed for several months although algae levels were below closure level. This addition will now give users the big picture on all aspects that can result in lake closure.
Due to the relative isolation from the canal and river floodwaters, LHM offers better conditions than any other primary contact sites after heavy rain.
Please review the video of swimming locations taken on the same day in mid December and ask yourself “Where would you prefer to swim”
LHM can remain a reliable, safe swimming area as it has done for the past 30 years provided Council takes long overdue action in addressing algae and lake health issues including investigation into canal inputs into the lake.
With the lake closed for barely a week, the aerial view clearly highlights the severe impact that the algal boom is having on LHM. While the surrounding waterways are still recovering from the rains in December, the BIG green of LHM stands out as a waterway in serious trouble.
It’s hard to believe, but we now have 5 years of consecutive lake closures. Once again the lake has been degraded into a green mess for who knows how long resulting in further decline.
The community has patiently waited through endless reports and now a feasibility study of options. Clearly the time has come for a FIRM COMMITMENT FROM COUNCIL ON SIGNIFICANT ACTION BEFORE NEXT SUMMER!
The Care Group would like to call a very important meeting of all stakeholders at Bel-air Park on Sunday the 31st of January at 4PM to discuss the issues and get feedback.
Care Group met this week with Council and Tony Weber of Alluvium Consulting to discuss the feasibility study of lake Management Options. Alluvium Consulting where engaged to provide Council with the expertise to review and assess all options.
Care group highlighted the urgency to get action. This was based on the increasing severity of algal blooms over the last 4 years and the declining lake health.
Both Council and Tony agreed on the urgency.
The Care Group suggested to fast track the Griffith recommendation of sand capping/Phoslock but GCCC made it clear that consideration of all options needs to be assessed first.
Feasibility of options including one – way valve, phoslock with or without sand capping and aquatic planting /vegetation etc will be ranked according to the Multi Criteria assessment. An estimated time frame of Mid February was given for the submission of Alluvium’s report to Council.
Council advised they are working towards implementation of at least one of the options that has the potential to make a measurable difference before next summer.
The Care group will be following up on progress on long overdue action over the coming months.
Councillor Young has received a long list of problems from council officers relating to the sailing shed and is awaiting awaiting a building and engineers inspection and report on the current condition.
The Care Group have advised that:
The reality is that no maintenance is largely responsible for these problems.
It would cost much more to remove the shed than to fix the issues below. To get access for the heavy demolition equipment and removal of concrete etc would damage the park works just completed as this is the only access.
You would still have the costs of landscaping. If these costs were spent on the existing shed most of the problems would be resolved.
Below is the list of issues and care group response;
Unsafe due to location and design; does not comply with Crime Prevention Through Environmental design (CPTED) principles. That is the design & location creates hidden areas obscured from passive surveillance and lends itself to potential criminal behavior – The same could be said behind any toilet block in any park- numerous residents overlook the entrance so it is not hidden and taming the “Jungle” on either side can improve visibility.
•Balustrade is non-complaint to current building standards – How long has this been non-compliant? Why has this not been previously rectified if non-compliant?
•The landscaping has failed on top of the building and on the steep surrounds – requiring considerable landscape amendments and new surface treatment options – No maintenance! – as suggested removal of soil from roof, screening plants around exposed concrete area which will help with soil stabilization.
•Retaining walls require extension to improve and contain steep slope and landscaping – Not if some soil removed and screening/stabilising plants installed.
•Existing landscape trees have outgrown the environment and damaging associated infrastructure – This is the cost of lack of maintenance.
•Worn areas in front of roller door requires concrete slab work – Grass in this area is in better condition than the adjacent park area, is concreting necessary?
•Access path has failed and is not DDA compliant – extremely difficult to remove existing path and replace with DDA compliant path – The barrier that has recently failed, provided the necessary compliance to prevent falling into the lake. Is path replacement even required if barrier is maintained?
•Security gate in front of roller door requires replacement/repairs – Ongoing maintenance.
•Unknown structural integrity & potential for improvements – The works required are long overdue maintenance, not improvements.
•Expected considerable costs to undertake above improvement works: assess sustainability for the greater community and appropriate use of rate payers money. – removal far more expensive and park landscaping works still required.
•Given the water quality issues the equipment has not been used for several months and is not permitted within the lake during poor quality water events – Sailing is classed as a secondary contact water sport and can be carried out safely even with elevated algae levels.
•Therefore is the Merrimac school better suited to use an alternative location for water craft / sailing activities. – LHM is the ONLY location on the GC that can provide a Shark free safe environment for sailing and the close proximity to the school is a major reason this lake is used given the limited time frame for school sports.
Parks have done a great job in getting these works completed before the predicted deluge this weekend. This will minimise the impact on the lake and once established and maintained will offer long term reduction in debris from this area washing into the lake.
The Bureau of Meteorology has declared a La Niña indicating a wet summer with increased chances of flooding and cyclones.
Flushing of LHM should be beneficial but as experienced in January, nutrients washed down from parks and properties as well as high levels of nutrients from the canal after the heavy rainfall assisted in achieving record levels of algae and severe degradation of water quality.
It is important to take steps NOW to minimise runoff from properties by insuring lawns, garden beds etc are kept in good order ready for possible heavy rain.
The Care Group will be meeting with parks this week to highlight the problem areas and will be discussing what can be done in the short and long term to reduce runoff of lawn clippings etc into the lake.
Regular lake users highlight the importance of Lake Hugh Muntz for Triathlon training. Some have been training here for over 26 years and have seen the lake quality deteriorate to the current state of continual closures. Despite the health risk, many are forced to train through lake closures due to the lack of suitable training locations.
Despite 20 years of declining water quality, users are still waiting for a plan from Council to address water quality issues to ensure the continued use of this valuable community asset.