Community News

Water Quality

There’s nothing like a bit of murkiness in our tap water to have ratepayers up in arms, and the tendency is to blame Council or the filtration system, or in Grafton’s case, the lack of. However, while a decent filtration plant might be desirable, the council, state government and the community, really need to address the source of the problem.

Each year, 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil are lost worldwide due to erosion. That’s 3.4 tonnes for every person on the planet. It’s all very well to shrug this as a natural result of heavy rain, but it’s simply not the case, and there are widespread activities that are causing this problem right here in the Clarence Valley.

The Environment Centre identified clear-felling of plantations by Forestry Corporation as a major problem locally, with deep ‘rip’ cultivation, without adequate erosion control, directly impacting our regional water supply.

State forest logging regulations have recently changed, halving the buffer zones, which were specifically in place to reduce erosion along creeks and drainage lines, and to compound the problem, many forests are leased for grazing.

Five years ago, an Inter-agency Committee identified that erosion control was virtually non-existent on intensive horticultural properties, yet the first heavy rain this season saw rivers resembling cream of chicken soup, showing the situation is worsening and the industry must accept much of the blame.

A large percentage of the valley’s privately owned land is used for grazing, criss-crossed by thousands of kilometres of rivers, creeks, and gullies, with barely any of them fenced. Cattle grazing on creek banks is hugely damaging, loosening the naturally fragile soils, destroying the vegetation that holds them together, so that when storms arrive the banks are simply washed away.

Some horrific erosion events occurred during the 4 years it took to build the new Pacific Highway, as it does with every other development activity, and we haven’t even started on wake boating and water skiing.

This is a problem to which we all contribute to a lesser or greater degree, and we must do better.


John Edwards