Award in the wings

JUST metres from the clearing of a privately owned wetland which was approved by the WA planning commission, Bayswater council’s restoration work at the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary has been nominated for a premier’s award.

The bird sanctuary is separated from the proposed housing development spot by a small path, but underground pipes connect the water tables and locals fear housing in such close quarters will be bad for the sanctuary’s health.

Increased noise

In a letter to the WAPC, Bayswater council planner Helen Smith said having housing so close would impact birds nesting and migration, scaring them off with artificial light and increased noise, and it could also increase weed infestation from garden escapees and unleash dog and cat attacks on the fauna in the neighbouring paths. On behalf of council she requested that if housing did go ahead that they leave a large buffer zone. The WAPC rejected that saying the pathway was sufficient distance.

The council spent $3million including government grants to restore the reserve. In a press release about the award nomination deputy mayor Stephanie Coates says before the work “Eric Singleton Reserve was a degraded man-made wetland laden with nutrient rich acid sulphate soil that was causing thick filamentous algae blooms”, a threadlike pond scum-type algae that covers everything.

“Run off into the Swan River was contributing to a decline in water quality and algae blooms were literally choking marine life to death. Wildlife diversity within the reserve was at an all-time low.”

Working with the WA parks and wildlife department the city lined the base of the wetland with limestone to neutralise acidity and help remove nitrogen, along with a whole host of planting and landscaping.

“The wetlands now prevents an estimated 1.3 tonnes of nitrogen, 200kg of phosphorous and 40 tonnes of sediment and rubbish from flowing into the river each year,” Cr Coates says.

The city and DPAW has been nominated as a finalist in the “managing the environment” category of the premier’s awards and the winners are announced November 2.

by DAVID BELL

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