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Blitz on building sites to protect health of our rivers

Scores of building sites will be inspected next week as part of a blitz to protect local waterways from run-off.

The campaign targets erosion and sediment control on building and construction sites and highlights the impact of sediment laden runoff on our waterways.

The October 15 blitz aims to build on the improvements achieved in the month-long campaign held in May when more than 1,110 building sites were inspected by 19 local councils, NSW Environment Protection Authority and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment officers.

In May, 63 per cent were compliant with the sediment requirements, a 13 per cent improvement on the 2018 campaign.

A total of $290,700 in fines was issued for sites that failed to follow the rules.

Called Get the Site Right, it’s a joint program between the Parramatta River Catchment Group, Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Lake Macquarie Council, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. 

Participating councils in the Georges River Catchment include Campbelltown City Council, Fairfield City Council and Liverpool City Council.

EPA regional director Giselle Howard says construction sites are getting the message about sediment control. 

“Results from the May campaign showed that there was an 86 per cent improvement in compliance rates on sites that were non-compliant on first visit and then had a repeat visit,” Ms Howard said.

“Get the Site Right isn’t just about fines. While we won’t hesitate to issue them for a breach the real aim is to stop runoff, and that means educating developers and builders about the role they can play to improve the health of our waterways by managing and preventing sediment-laden runoff.

“Many tradies and construction workers also like to fish in their time off, or to picnic with their families around our city’s iconic waterways, so at work it is possible for them to make the connection to help keep our environment clean and healthy. “

Georges Riverkeeper program manager Beth Salt said while it was pleasing to see an improvement in compliance rates, there was still work to do deliver a clean and safe river for the community to enjoy.

Sediment spills affect our environment and waterways by:

  • Destroying aquatic habitats and smothering native plants and animals that live in our waterways.
  • Directly polluting creeks, rivers and harbours by filling them with dirt, soil, sand and mud. This
    leads to poorer water quality, affecting swimming or leisure activities in and around our waterways.
  • Blocking stormwater drains leading to flooding and overflows.
  • Eroding creek and riverbanks.

Members of the public can report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.

More information about the campaign and the importance of erosion and sediment control is available at: www.ourlivingriver.com.au/getthesiteright

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