LOCAL environmental group Shoalhaven Riverwatch Incorporated has announced it will not begin any new river restoration projects until the NSW Government acts on two of its plans for the Shoalhaven River.
The drastic move comes in response to the failure of the NSW Government to protect the Shoalhaven River, according to Riverwatch president Patricia Mason.
“Currently there are no State Government approved management plans in place to provide proper guidance to protect the river, manage boating activities and allocate priorities to undertake river restoration work,” she said.
Riverwatch, which works closely with the State and local governments on restoration and overall management of the Shoalhaven River, is calling for the NSW Government to approve the river’s estuary management plan and release the boating management plan.
“There is serious concern among land owners, oyster farmers and the community that the river is being loved to death,” Ms Mason said.
She said landowners were suffering the loss of valuable farmland through bank erosion and oyster farm production ceased for nearly three months in 2007 because of river pollution.
A review of the Shoalhaven River in 1999 resulted in the recommendation that a management plan be adopted.
In March this year an estuary management plan drafted by Shoalhaven City Council and the NSW Government was approved by council.
“Unfortunately the NSW Government must gazette the plan for it to become enforceable,” Ms Mason said.
A greater concern for Shoalhaven Riverwatch, according to Ms Mason, was the failure of the NSW Government to release the boating management plan, a draft of which was completed in April 2006.
Riverwatch vice president Charlie Weir said the group had spent over $150,000 in public funds and considerable volunteer and Green Corps hours restoring the riverbanks.
More funding proposals to the tune of $6 million are being submitted under the new Coastcare
Mr Weir said the money and effort spent restoring the banks was wasted without regulations on watercraft use.
“Recently we lost over 500 young mangrove trees through the irresponsible actions of wakeboarders,” he said.
Riverwatch said considerable research had been done to identify the problems and it could see no reason for the delays.
“The NSW Government now has a unique opportunity to show some political leadership and make a real difference to our river by implementing the plans so that we can undertake essential repairs to our river and hopefully leave a healthy river to future generations,” Ms Mason said.