As part of Council meetings, Councillors are able to request action be taken on a matter in the form of a Notice of Motion – and then need majority support of their fellow Councillors for it to be approved. There is also the option for Councillors to ask a Question With Notice. These are both in addition to the matters that Council staff and the Lord Mayor place on the Agenda. Note: there are a number of other ways Councillors get raise and get action taken on different matters.

Here is a listing of the Notice of Motions and Questions With Notice that I’ve raised at Council meetings so far, with details below (though these are still being added): 

2022

  • March: Fish Kill and Reducing Organic Matter in Our Waterways
  • March: Summary of Council Meetings
  • March: Improving Access to Council Business Papers
  • June: Lights on at Park at Night
  • October: Mozzie Education Campaign
  • October: ParraMatch
  • October: (rescission motion) Social Media Policy

2023

  • March: Concern for State Heritage Listed Broughton House, Parramatta
  • April: Damaged Stormwater Drains

Fish Kill and Reducing Organic Matter in Our Waterways - March 2022

Parramatta River goes to the heart and soul of our Central River City, with millions of people enjoying it every year. So when thousands of dead fish washed up along the foreshore in Rydalmere and Wentworth Point, as well as along Haslam’s Creek, it was heart breaking for so many people, including myself.

I want to sincerely thank the many many members of our community who reported the fish kill to the EPA, raised awareness about in our community and reached out to myself, other Local Councillors and State Members of Parliament to take action to prevent it happening again. The outpouring of concern, and in some cases anger, just shows the high level of care our community has for Parramatta River.

(a) That Council note over 4,000 fish sadly died recently in Parramatta River, due to fish kills at Rydalmere and Haslams Creek. The NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have confirmed that the fish kills were caused by a combination of repeated heavy rain, large tidal currents and increased amounts of organic matter in the river leading to critically low levels of oxygen in the water, especially near the bottom of the river. It should be further noted that analysis of water samples did not detect any chemical or common organic contaminants, such as pesticides, that could cause a fish kill and the affected fish showed no visible effects consistent with either acute or chronic chemical contamination.

(b) That Council write to the EPA requesting further information be provided to
Council and the community to better understand how this event occurred, given
it’s common to have repeated heavy rain at this time of year, with king tides and lots of people mowing their lawns and yet this is the first time in recent history that there has been a fish kill in Parramatta River.

(c) That Council report back on actions required to stop excessive and harmful
amounts of organic matter reaching our waterways, such as lead to the recent
fish kills, and the associated costs with these actions, including but not limited
to:

i. Adjustments that could be made to Council’s park maintenance work to
limit the about of grass clippings and other organic matter available to
wash into the stormwater network

ii. Adjustments that could be made to Council’s street-cleaning operations to
reduce the amount of organic matter building up on our streets

iii. Adjustments that could be made to the management of gross pollutant traps (GPT’s), such as increased cleaning of traps before forecasted major weather events

iv. Education campaign to inform residents and local businesses on the
impact of organic (and non-organic) matter washing into drains and our waterways, such as stencilling on City of Parramatta (COP) drains to remind residents that only rain should go down the drain and all drains lead to our river

(d) Further, that Council, in the event of a fish kill happening again, proactively inform the community of the event and the action being taken to investigate and clean up the fish kill, via social media, website and signage.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITY ASSETS & OPERATIONS RESPONSE

  1. Council staff have been actively working in collaboration with the EPA to respond to the recent fish kill events within the Parramatta River. Council removed approximately 1400 dead fish from the northern bank of the Parramatta River.
  2. The EPA has convened a panel of scientific experts who are interpreting analytical data and surveillance information. Expert advice based on these data indicate a rare combination of surface water inflows bringing organic matter into the river system, large tidal currents resuspending existing organic matter near the river floor (which consumes oxygen) and a freshwater layer preventing oxygen exchange led to the low oxygen levels that resulted in this fish mortality. External pollution sources have now been discounted.
  3. Council is still waiting on the final report from the scientific experts to further determine appropriate action. Any water improvements within the Parramatta
    River will require a regional approach given the large water catchment and multiple local government jurisdictions involved.
  4. Council staff recommend that that paragraph (b) of the proposed motion be
    amended to the following effect:
    “That Council write to EPA to request that the final report on the fish kills in Parramatta be made publicly available to assist the public to better understand
    how this event occurred.“
  5. The City of Parramatta is a key member of the Parramatta River Catchment
    Group (PRCG), an alliance of Councils, Government Agencies and community
    groups.
  6. In 2018, the PRCG released DUBA, BUDU, BARRA: Ten Steps to a Living River – the Parramatta River Masterplan. This plan sets out a clear vision and steps to establish Parramatta River and its tributaries as a world-class river for Sydney. The plan can be found here.
  7. A key step in the Plan is to improve stormwater quality entering the Parramatta River.
  8. There are currently nine Councils, including Parramatta, Transport for NSW and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) that sit on a Stormwater Subcommittee which is dedicated to adopting a regional approach to the installation, maintenance of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) and stormwater infrastructure for the catchment. It would be beneficial to consult with the Stormwater Subcommittee as part of Council’s response to the fish kill.
  9. A consistent regional approach to reduce organics and litter within the stormwater system will have the most effect to improve water quality within the Parramatta River. We recommend the following changes to item (C) in the above resolution.

    That Council ask the PRCG stormwater subcommittee to consider the final report on the fish kills in Parramatta and specifically the most successful and cost-effective actions that could be implemented across the Catchment to stop excessive and harmful amounts of organic matter reaching our waterways, the subcommittee should consider in their review the effectiveness of the following actions:

    v. Best practice park maintenance work to limit the about of grass clippings and other organic matter available to wash into the stormwater network,

    vi. Best practice street-cleaning operations to reduce the amount of organic matter building up on our streets

    vii. Best practice management practices for gross pollutant traps (GPT’s), such as increased cleaning of traps before forecasted major weather events

    viii. Best practice Education campaign to inform residents and local businesses on the impact of organic (and non-organic) matter washing into drains and our waterways, such as stencilling on City of Parramatta (COP) drains to remind residents that only rain should go down the drain and all drains lead to our river.

    That a report be brought back to Council within 6 months covering the EPA and PRCG findings and provide recommendations on the associated cost on how these recommendations could be implemented.
  10. In terms of the current situation, Council’s network of smaller GPTs are inspected and cleaned after each rainfall event triggered by greater than 10mm of rain in a 24-hour period. The larger underground GPTs are cleaned on a minimum quarterly basis and more frequently depending on the number and intensity of rainfall received.
  11. Council has conducted stormwater education programs in the past including drain stencilling of priority catchments through both volunteer groups and schools. NSW EPA also have some resources available under their “The Drain is just for Rain” program, including postcard messaging, stickers, posters, stencils and short videos that can be utilised.

 

FINANCIAL AND RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS

Given the large number of issues involved and the regional approach staff could produce this report within existing resources, however, would require a six to eight month timeframe to allow adequate research and consultation with external agencies.

(a) That Council note over 4,000 fish sadly died recently in Parramatta River, due to fish kills at Rydalmere and Haslams Creek. The NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have confirmed that the fish kills were caused by a combination of repeated heavy rain, large tidal currents and increased amounts of organic matter in the river leading to critically low levels of oxygen in the water,
especially near the bottom of the river. It should be further noted that analysis of water samples did not detect any chemical or
common organic contaminants, such as pesticides, that could cause a fish kill and the affected fish showed no visible effects consistent with either acute or chronic chemical contamination.

(b) That Council write to EPA to request the final report on the fish kills
in Parramatta River be made publicly available to assist the public to better understand how this event occurred.“

(c) That Council ask the PRCG stormwater subcommittee to consider the final report on the fish kills in Parramatta and specifically the most successful and cost-effective actions that could be implemented across the Catchment to stop excessive and harmful amounts of organic matter reaching our waterways, the subcommittee should consider in their review the effectiveness of the following actions:

i. Best practice park maintenance work to limit the about of grass clippings and other organic matter available to wash into the stormwater network,

ii. Best practice street-cleaning operations to reduce the amount of organic matter building up on our streets

iii. Best practice management practices for gross pollutant traps (GPT’s), such as increased cleaning of traps before
forecasted major weather events

iv. Best practice Education campaign to inform residents and local businesses on the impact of organic (and non-organic)
matter washing into drains and our waterways, such as
stencilling on City of Parramatta (COP) drains to remind residents that only rain should go down the drain and all drains lead to our river.

(d) That a report be brought back to Council within six (6) months covering the EPA and PRCG findings and provide recommendations on the associated cost on how these recommendations could be implemented.

(e) That Council, in the event of a fish kill happening again, proactively inform the community of the event and the action being taken to
investigate and clean up the fish kill, via social media, website and signage.

(f) That Council commend its officers for the prompt action they took on this matter when notified.

(g) Further, that Council thank the many community members who alerted the EPA to these events.

Comments are closed.

Close Search Window