PLANS to develop an area along the Shoalhaven River in Nowra could face a battle.
Plans have been put forward in recent months to redevelop the Riverhaven Motel into a major riverside complex with accommodation, shops and entertainment facilities.
However those plans could face a major stumbling block, with Charlie Weir from the Shoalhaven Riverwatch group promising to fight plans for any further development along the river until more was done to improve the waterway’s health.
The former professional fisherman and long-term advocate for the river said the river’s health should be improved before anyone tried to build facilities making the most of the river.
“There are a lot of things that should be done before we get any new development,” Mr Weir said.
The first thing that needed to be addressed was river flow rates, with Mr Weir saying the river’s oysters and mangroves all needed more fresh water.
“Everything that is growing in the river needs more fresh water,” he said.
“Even the fish need more fresh water.”
But it was not just creatures living in the water that would benefit from increased flows, according to Mr Weir.
“At the moment we don’t get enough fresh water in the river to wash away the rubbish,” he added.
The lack of rubbish traps meant cans, bottles, wrappers, plastic bags and other litter was washed into the river every time it rained, Mr Weir said. The refuse generally remained around Nowra because the river’s water was not moving quickly or strongly enough to wash it away.
Mr Weir said a simple solution to stormwater carrying rubbish into the Shoalhaven River was available, and suggested all stormwater be directed to swamp areas near Broughton Creek or at Lovegrove Swamp.
Swamps would filter the stormwater to remove rubbish, and cleanse it before it emptied into rivers, he said.
“By the time it goes through all that, it filters itself,” Mr Weir said.
In contrast a lot of stormwater run-off was flowing straight into the river off places such as Riverview Road, carrying with it pesticides sprayed on garden beds, car washing detergents, and other household chemicals.
“We need to see that nothing else goes in the river unless it is treated – tertiary treated,” Mr Weir said.
His fear was that any further development along the riverfront would lead to more untreated waste and rubbish being washed into the river.
“The bigger this town gets, the more stuff that’s going into the river,” Mr Weir said.
“We haven’t even got traps to stop paper bags and other rubbish going into the river.
“All this stuff needs to be done before there’s any new development.”