Rescue plan for lakes

BAYSWATER council is set to spend $1.65million on reviving three ailing lakes in Maylands following emergency works on Tuesday.

The works prevented further collapse at the small lake near the old brickworks and the other two major lakes are in dire straits, prompting Bayswater councillors to unanimously vote to support a rescue plan created by the Friends of Maylands Lakes.

Council workers installed a filtration buffer at the putrid lake so it doesn’t spill muck into the bigger Bungana and Brearley lakes nearby, and they’ll consider dredging if necessary to remove more nutrients that cause the thick soup of algae that reduces water oxygen levels.

• Friends of Maylands Lakes chair Geoff Trott at the smaller brickworks lake.

The council’s first attempt at a buffer, a couple of hay bales, proved so popular with nesting birds that it was soon replaced with a mesh filter.

The situation is so smelly that Bayswater is liaising with the Water Corporation to double check there hasn’t been a sewage spill into the lake.

FOML chairman Geoff Trott says they formed last year after a meeting organised by councillor Catherine Ehrhardt to discuss ongoing problems, including algal blooms, fish population fall offs, dying birds, moribund turtles and other animals migrating away.

In a deputation to council Mr Trott said the issues could have been nipped in the bud with small prevention measures, but it’s been allowed to drag on for nearly 10 years and has snowballed. He says the council seems the work needed to restore even the smaller of the lakes appears to have taken the council by surprise.

• Workers clear choking weed from the small lake behind the old brickworks. Photos by Steve Grant

At Wednesday’s council meeting Cr Brent Fleeton, elected in 2015, asked why the long-running problem hadn’t been addressed.

“How on earth has it got to this, that an asset in the community has been left alone for so long? …why weren’t we dealing with it before?”

Cr Chris Cornish said the council needed better asset management so cash could be set aside over time rather than councillors being presented with huge bills when things became dire.

“This hit is not acceptable,” he said of the impending $1.65m bill. “We cannot operate this way.”

Staff replied that “asset management principles have only recently been embraced at the City of Bayswater” and hopefully they won’t get caught out again.

Major items on the works list include dredging Lakes Bungana and Brearley ($1m), $250,000 for pollutant traps on drains (stops muck like road run off and fertilisers getting into the lakes), $50,000 to test out floating wetlands, $125,000 for solar pumps and $144,000 for revegetation.

Bayswater council will decide whether to approve the $1.65m works when it sets its budget later this year.

Meanwhile, Bayswater mayor Barry McKenna claimed the council were short changed in 1998 when the Maylands area was transferred over from Stirling city council, leaving them in the financial lurch and struggling to care for local assets.

“We got dudded,” he said.

At Wednesday’s council meeting Cr McKenna said the Maylands area represents five per cent of Stirling’s domain.

Residents had been paying money into City of Stirling reserves for years, so when it got transferred over to Bayswater he reckoned it was fair that the money they’d paid got transferred too.

That cash “came to $11.5million. We got $1.6m,” Cr McKenna said.

“We were told [the lakes] were sound and in good order.

“Quite clearly they are not. Regardless of all that, it is now in the City of Bayswater, and now we have to fix it.”

Mr Trott said “the Maylands lakes residents feel dudded as well. We paid a lot of money to live there and there were lovely promises, and we found our dream became a swamp, less than a swamp”.

by DAVID BELL

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