JUNE WINSOME SMITH lives with her partner James Kozak in Maylands. This isn’t the couple’s first appearance in the Voice, being dubbed “tree warriors” after they staged a sit-in and saved the life of a still-thriving, Grevillea Robusta tree in their unit complete from impending, and unlawful, destruction (October 10, 2019). In today’s SPEAKER’S CORNER they uncover an even bigger issue.
THERE’S a well-kept, and appalling, secret brewing away in Maylands: Tens of thousands of abandoned golf balls disintegrating in a once pristine wetland.
In May this year, following Covid-19 social distancing requirements, and finding our usual walking routes crowded, my partner James and I began walking along the foreshore beside the Maylands Peninsula Golf Course.
It is a relatively peaceful area and has stunning wetlands. But it was trashed with litter, including many thousands of golf balls. Dismayed by the littering, we began collecting it and putting it in rubbish bins. Fifty per cent appeared to come from the golf course, and 50 per cent from the tides that washed in over the samphire wetland; particularly after the tidal surge of June 25.
Realising the extent of the problem, we sought help from the Swan River Trust for collection equipment. We also registered the area as an Adopt-a-Spot with the Keep Australia Beautiful Council, as Maylands Peninsula Golf Course Riverbank and Wetland. Each time we collect litter we take photographs and send in a detailed report to KABC.
The golf course began operations 26 years ago, in 1994. In only two months, James and I collected nearly 4000 golf balls at different levels of deterioration. Abandoned golf balls had been accumulating in the samphire wetland, the foreshore, and the Swan River for 26 years. You do the math.
We met other walkers who also said they’d collected thousands of balls. Then, Brett Holland, another local, told us he’d seen the body of a dead pelican with a golf ball in its stomach.
I wrote to City of Bayswater, and Golf Oracle the contracted operator of MPGC, requesting a meeting on site to discuss the problems and their possible solutions.
Brett wrote to CoB about the pelican.
Stella Grey, secretary for the Maylands Residents and Ratepayers Association met us on site at the wetland and viewed the golf balls in situ. Suddenly a golf ball hurtled off course at 193 kph (average speed) and landed between us; a grim reminder of the danger to pedestrians.
On July 1, I wrote to the City of Bayswater and initiated a dialogue with Jon Vines, manager project services. I also initiated a dialogue with Matt Harding, operations manager at Golf Oracle.
On July 10 I sent detailed maps and invited them to a meeting on site to discuss the problem of golf ball littering.
To date, I have not had a response. Other problems appeared. Polystyrene briquette floats, placed into the wetland for a mosquito control programme, continued to disintegrate into the wetland, adding to the pollution. Dialogue was initiated at CoB with Don Sorensen, environmental health industrial and mosquito control officer.
No formal response has been received to date.
The World Wildlife Fund says: “The majority of the wetlands in Western Australia’s Swan Coastal Plain have been destroyed by decades of urban and rural development. It has been estimated that if the current rate of loss continues, almost all of these remaining wetlands are likely to be lost in 10-20 years.”
It is imperative we retain and maintain our wetlands for future generations of all beings, animal, and human.