Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Greens Aim to Get the Dirt out of Catchment

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Greens Aim to Get the Dirt out of Catchment

Article excerpt

Byline: Jasmine Burke

IN THE past 30 years there have been at least 26 reports identifying the poor condition of the Richmond River and setting out plans to improve it - but the system still has a D-grade rating and is one of the unhealthiest rivers in NSW.

This prompted the Greens to announce a $200 million, 15 year plan to restore the Richmond River to its former glory. The plan is a pillar of their campaign at the March state election.

Almost half of its 21 river systems received a score of F for water quality in the University of New England Ecohealth report, including the Wilsons River, Leycester Creek, and the upper and lower estuarine areas below Woodburn.

Extensive water quality surveys of major rivers on the North Coast in June 1987 found the quality of Richmond River was poor in comparison.

There have also been three major fish kills and blackwater events since 2001, two of which have resulted in closure of the river to fishing. Fish kills of this scale in 2001 had not been previously documented in Australia.

In 2008 the second major fish kill occurred after prolonged rainfall and extensive flooding throughout the Richmond River catchment.

Millions of aquatic animals in the lower Richmond died, including at least two million fish. A temporary ban on fishing followed.

This year the State's Marine Estate Management Strategy found the catchment is "in worse ecological health than most estuaries in NSW."

Greens MPs say the issue is not a lack of knowledge or detailed action plans - but a lack of funding and coordination for these plans.

Greens MP and environment spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann said the "inaction on the Richmond River speaks volumes about the lack of genuine commitment to fixing the river by successive governments".

"In the past 30 years the government has produced numerous glossy brochures and action plans and yet the degradation of the catchment has gotten worse, the fishing industry has almost disappeared and the Wilsons River is unfit to swim in. …

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