I know many residents and users have been inquiring on the outcome of the meeting with our elected Councillor Pauline Young but unfortunately the Care Group have been unable to secure a meeting. Despite other Councillor’s and Federal representatives performing their duties as normal and meeting with the public, Councillor Young has not been able to meet due to COVID restrictions.
The Care group as a last resort have requested a phone call to discuss ongoing issues an her election commitment, again denied. The reason given was that many statements in our post have previously been addressed therefore Clr Young feels it was not necessary for a special meeting to occur.
Clearly many issues have NOT been addressed, hence we will continue of efforts to meet with our elected representative and advise the public on our progress.
Just a reminder to go easy on the fertiliser this spring as the last thing the lake needs is more nutrients!
The significant loss of submerged vegetation over many years has resulted in very little take up of nutrients entering the lake. The result is that the majority of these nutrients are now left available for the algae to feed on.
It is no coincidence, that the loss of plants and the resultant deterioration of lake health has coincided with an increase in algal blooms.
Despite the importance of submerged vegetation on lake health, Council currently has no plans to reverse the decline.
Council have advised that algae and toxin concentrations have fallen below the Red Alert levels to the Orange level and have opened the lake after nearly 7 months of closure.
Council have updated their website to a traffic light system indicating lake condition and can be accessed through the link below:
Lake Hugh Muntz Water Quality
Unfortunately the graph showing trends in water quality still does not give any indication of the toxin levels that have extended the lake closure for over 3 months or the current level or trends.
We are still waiting on the report from Griffith that was due in July regarding options to reduce blooms.
As we head into the swimming season, on the back of record algae and toxin levels, indicating an even further decline in water quality, the Care Group will be requesting immediate implementation of options in the report.
The Care Group will be planning a public meeting shortly after the release of the report.
LHM has now been closed for 6 months – half a year! The closure could not have come at a worse time with the lake not being able to be used throughout the whole COVID lockdown period.
- Algae Graph. Unfortunately the community are still left in the dark over the extent and the trends of the toxic state of the lake with mystery high toxic levels extending the closure. Current graph shows low algae levels for several months. GCCC plan to update algae website to a more user friendly form which the Care Group have requested to include trending of all measurements relating to lake closure.
- Investigation into Record Algae levels. The care group requested a detailed investigation based on resident observations of the worst condition of the lake in 25 years and significant input of dirty water from the canal. Council have advised that the cause is a combination of significant rainfall and nutrients in-lake being stirred up by the force of water. The care group have requested the data that supports the statement that in-lake nutrients, not the significant high level of nutrients from the canal are responsible for the record algae levels.
- Care Group Meeting Request with Clr Young. Clr Youngs office advised that Council have not yet lifted certain restrictions regarding meetings with the public at this stage and to make contact in the future.
- Catchment Management Issues. City Parks officers have been working with Councillor Young and the Lake Hugh Muntz Management Team to develop improvement plans for parks, with some works starting this Quarter.
- Delay in Report on Management Options. The report into potential management options was due in July but has been delayed while a user friendly summary is produced in conjunction with the full report.
- Delay in Next LHMSG Meeting. It was 6 months since the Lake Hugh Muntz Stakeholder Group and interested individuals met at Council Chambers. With the current COVID restrictions, Council advises that it is difficult to conduct meetings involving large groups and will reschedule when safe and appropriate.
On the back of widespread public concern over inaction addressing 20 years of declining lake health, Council engaged Griffith Uni with the scope to;
Reduce the Occurrence of Algae Blooms. That’s it!
NO objectives for long term lake health, NO scope for investigation into catchment management issues and NO environmental considerations.
The limited scope given to Griffith Uni is not going to provide what the community require and that is a long term improvement in lake health.
In contrast, Councils 2008 management plan objectives were;
To ensure that the lake system is maintained as a healthy and
aesthetically valuable environment, indicative of a freshwater lake
system in a sub tropical environment
lets compare other lakes currently having algae issues, for example,
Forest Lake in Brisbane. Brisbane City Council has invested 1 Million Dollars in lake repair with the outcome;
To reduce algal blooms on Forest Lake and improve the health of the lake ecosystem.
Councils inadequate scope given to Griffith Uni experts is hindering and delaying efforts to find a long term effective solution.
The Care Group request that the following mandatory objectives be added to the scope and will be raising the issue with Clr Young at the next meeting;
- Action to improve the long term health of the lake.
- Investigation and action on Catchment management Issues.
- Consideration of all environmental Issues.
Please follow link below for full info but in summary,
Given the relaxation of COVID restrictions the Care Group again request a meeting to discuss;
- Request to honour election commitment on Catchment Management improvements.
- Expedite action this summer to reduce further decline.
- Action/Inclusion of key issues including Lake health in Griffith Objectives.
Care Group Letter of Reply
The Care Group have inquired why the lake has remained closed after having readings below the red trigger closure levels for the last 2 months. Council advised that Toxin levels are also tested and are still above the recommendation for primary contact.
The concern was raised that potential users of the lake could make a false judgment based on the incomplete information in the GCCC graph and prematurely start using the lake without knowing the consequences. The Care Group have asked that the toxin levels be added to the graph and remind users not to swim in the lake while closure signs are present.
Graph Courtesy of GCCC.
The Care group prepared an open letter to Councillor Young outlining what we would like to see progress over the next 4 years.
Councillor Young has replied outlining Councils stance.
The Care group will be sending a detailed reply but in summary;
The Care Group objectives are made to address key issues effecting the long term health and recovery. Key issues that Council and Griffith have failed to address or even acknowledge. We also support an evidence-based approach and expect that key issues receive the appropriate scientific research that they deserve.
We have no issues with Council rejecting our suggestions provided they have better solution!
Simply doing nothing in resolving key problems is not going to resolve the Critical Condition of Lake Hugh Muntz.
Please follow links to documents below:
Care Group Open Letter to Councillor Young.
Councillor Young’s Letter of Reply.
The Care Group have requested an investigation into record algae levels after rain events in late January. The rain events coincided with significant inputs of dirty water from the canal. Unfortunately, neither Council or Griffith tested the inflow of water during the recent rains. Council however have been testing the canal water at specific high tide events and advised of high nitrogen levels (red arrow)
The graph shows the average yearly concentrations in LHM which are well above the Water Quality Objectives (dotted red line) for the Nerang Catchment including LHM.
No doubt, nutrient levels in the lake would also be elevated to a certain degree but ongoing and future works including gully baskets, Phoslock applications and catchment management improvements are all aimed at controlling and reducing nitrogen levels toward the water quality objectives of a healthy lake.
The concern is that unknown inputs from the canal including high nitrogen levels are going to reduce the effectiveness of any lake based improvements.
Clearly the unknown inputs of dirty, high nutrient and possibly polluted waters from the canal may not beneficial to the long term health of the lake. We request further investigation of lake inflows to determine the suitability of a one-way valve.
A quick link has been added to the LHM page for easy access to the latest algae results. Simply go to lakehughmuntz.com.au and click the link.
While the results are trending down, the lake unfortunately still remains closed over the Easter period.