Do your part this Clean Up Australia Day

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Geraldton is home to some of the best beaches and bushland in Australia and the City of Greater Geraldton is calling members of the community to come together to help keep it that way.

Every year tonnes of rubbish plagues our environment and Clean Up Australia Day aims to reduce litter that is impacting our streets, parks and waterways.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn encouraged members of the community to register.

“Registering for Clean Up Australia Day is really easy and simple – you can either join an existing group or create your own,” he said.

“The more people involved, the more fun it is for everyone. You can even round out the day with a sausage sizzle and nice cold drink.

“Put on your gloves and help us reduce waste in our local parks, streets, bushland and beaches for a cleaner local environment.”

The major source of rubbish in WA is plastics, closely followed by paper, metals, glass, polystyrene, wood and rubber.

“Some of these items can take up to 500 years to breakdown. Chemicals are also released in the breakdown process, which are harmful to flora and fauna,” added Mayor Van Styn.

To support those partaking in Clean Up Australia Day, the City will provide additional bags and gloves as well as bins through ToxFree who are generously supporting the day with the delivery and pickup of skip bins.

National Clean Up Australia Day is held on Sunday 4 March and is an all-day event.

There is also a Business Clean Up Day on Tuesday 27 February as well as a Schools Clean Up Day on Friday 2 March.

To join in on a registered Clean Up site visit www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au. Before registering a new site please contact the City’s Community Development Officer steved@cgg.wa.gov.au to check suitability and obtain support with bins, gloves and bags.

Clean Up Australia Day is also supported by Northern Agriculture Catchments Council (NACC) and Woolworths Seacrest.

Carnaby's black cockatoo numbers 'increase dramatically' with artificial hollows

Sarah Taillier for the ABC:

Artificial nesting hollows are helping revive the numbers of the critically endangered Carnaby's black cockatoo, after it lost part of its breeding heartland to bushfire in Western Australia.
The largest known nestling ground for the Australian bird species is in woodlands at a farm in Coomallo near Badgingarra, about 200 kilometres north of Perth.

Cucumber Virus first found in Geraldton now discovered in Perth

Joanna Predergast for the ABC:

A cucumber crop in the Perth horticultural area, which extends from Gingin in the north to Karnup in the south, has tested positive to Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV), making Perth the third location in the state to test positive for the disease.

The disease was first found in Western Australia in a cucumber crop near Geraldton in July and has since been found in Carnarvon.

Click here to read article.

Greys Beach potentially contaminated from dumping

Following a question at the recent council meeting regarding Geraldton's Beaches, the CGG provided this response, mentioning a potential contamination at a small section of Greys Beach: 

 "The City has received advice from the Department of Environment & Regulation (DER) that a small section at the Greys beach area has some potentially contaminated materials (due to legacy dumping of old building materials). The City is following the DER process and has commissioned a preliminary site investigation for the area, the City is currently in the middle of that process with its consultants. The process needs to meet DER requirements and the extent of any potential clean-up will be determined after those investigations have been completed in conjunction with DER."

 

Water Corp finds large leaks in Tarcoola, Mahoments

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LEAK DETECTION SAVES WATER IN GERALDTON

Water Corporation inspected more than 5,900 kilometres of water mains across Western Australia over the past year as part of a Liberal National Government program to detect and repair non-visible leaks.

The overall savings were the equivalent of 1,244 Olympic swimming pools of water each year.

Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney said the program included Tarcoola Beach, Mahomets Flats and Mount Tarcoola where more than 200 million litres of water each year would be saved.

“Detection of non-visible leaks forms an important part of Water Corporation’s water loss management strategy,” Mr Blayney said.

 “Leaks can be difficult to detect on underground pipes, especially in sandy soils. This program uses acoustic technology to detect hidden leaks, which can then be prioritised for repair.

“Workers walk along the pipeline and listen with technology similar to a stethoscope to determine if a non-visible leak is present, then specialist equipment is brought in to pinpoint its location.

“The large leaks detected in Tarcoola Beach, Mahomets Flats and Mount Tarcoola illustrate how this technology can save significant amounts of water.”

Water Corporation manages nearly 34,500 kilometres of water mains across 2.6 million square kilometres of Western Australia.

“When you consider that amount of pipe would cover Australia east to west more than 8.5 times, you realise how large an undertaking it is to detect non-visible leaks,”Mr Blayney said.

Water Corporation will continue its non-visible leak detection program in 2016-17.

 

Fact File

More than 5,900kms of water mains inspected for hidden leaks in 2015-16, which saved 2.8 billion litres of water each year. This included around 4,400kms in the Perth metro area and 1,500kms in regional WA. Leaks occur in every water supply scheme across the world and are influenced by a number of external factors, such as soil types, nearby construction and tree roots.Members of the public who see a leak or pipe break can report it to Water Corporation 24/7 by phoning 13 13 75.

Wildflowers in bloom in the Mid West

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Emergency sand nourishment to slow Drummond Cove coastal erosion

In an effort to slow down the rate of coastal erosion, save trees and protect at risk state government infrastructure sand nourishment works will begin today along Whitehill Road in Drummond Cove.

The works expected to take five days to complete will see approximately 5,000m3 of sand placed along the shoreline.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said that although Council recognises sand nourishment is only a temporary solution, it aligns with the community’s preferred option to combat the erosion of Whitehill Road.

“Council understands sand nourishment is only a stop gap measure but we are faced with an imminent threat and understand the sand could wash away quickly,” he said.

“However, it is better than no action at all and has the support of the Drummond Cove Progress Association and was also identified by the local community as the preferred temporary solution during the Whitehill Road Community Workshop held in May.

“At this point, $50,000 in emergency funds for sand nourishment will hopefully buy us some time to continue discussions with Western Power, Telstra and Watercorp regarding at risk infrastructure and medium term solutions such as sand bags, rock revetments or concrete squares on matting can be investigated.

“Permanent solutions to coastal erosion at Drummond Cove cannot be considered by Council until data collection and modelling of the ocean currents in the area are undertaken and Coastal Adaptation Planning for the entire Geraldton coast has been completed,” Mayor Van Styn said.

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Cardboard Crusher reopens

The City is pleased to announce repairs and maintenance to the cardboard crusher have been completed and the machine is now ready for use at Meru Waste Disposal Facility.

The community is encouraged to drop off their cardboard at the Tip Shop for recycling.

Northampton to clean up lead tailings from dozens of properties

Sarah Taillier for the ABC:

The Department of Lands has received more than $7 million to remove the tailings from dozens of properties in Northampton, north of Geraldton.

Click here to read full story. 

New partnership for Land for Wildlife conservation program

The Department of Parks and Wildlife’s well-regarded Land for Wildlife conservation program is partnering with NRM WA to help participants manage their bushland for wildlife habitat.

Land for Wildlife is a voluntary scheme to encourage and assist private landholders to provide habitat for wildlife in bushland on their property.

There are currently 1941 registered landholders, with a total of 286,614 hectares of bushland being managed as wildlife habitat through the program.

Mr Jim Sharp, Director General Parks and Wildlife, said the collaboration with NRM WA regional organisations would benefit private land managers and the State’s biodiversity conservation.

“This agreement and partnership arrangements with the NRM organisations is an exciting development for private land conservation in Western Australia,” he said.

As a result of the agreement, the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) will take on a leading role to deliver Land for Wildlife in the WA’s Northern Agricultural Region – encompassing 7.5 million hectares from Gingin to Kalbarri and east to Mullewa, Perenjori and Kalannie.

NACC CEO Richard McLellan said the organisation was excited by the new collaboration, and was looking forward to working with Parks and Wildlife.

“We are particularly looking forward to connecting with existing Land for Wildlife member land managers across the region, to maintain this important land stewardship program, and to introducing the scheme to new land managers,” he said.

“Our role in the partnership will be to provide field extension and expertise in land management support to landholders; community engagement; and information dissemination; as well as providing considerable local knowledge about land management practices and local biodiversity conservation.”

Mr Sharp said Parks and Wildlife, which has run Land for Wildlife since 1997, will continue to administer the program through coordination of property assessments, registering and supporting new participants and communications including the Western Wildlife newsletter.

Jim Sullivan, Chair NRM WA, said the services each NRM organisation will provide to Land for Wildlife members would be determined in coming months.

“It is anticipated that NRM bodies will work with landholders in each region, linking them into networks and local communications,” he said.

For more information or to become a participant, visit www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/landforwildlife

Mayor exercises discretionary powers for emergency works at St Georges

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn has exercised his discretionary powers under the Local Government Act to begin emergency works to mitigate erosion at St Georges Beach.

On Tuesday Mayor Van Styn approved immediate works which include the construction of a low level sandbag groyne and sand nourishment works.

Mayor Van Styn said it was with careful consultation with City staff that he decided to make the executive decision.

“I understand how rare it is to utilise this power but this is an extremely important issue that demanded immediate attention,” he said.

“Without me exercising my rights under the Local Government Act, this process could have potentially taken months which is time we just don’t have.

“We have very important community infrastructure at risk and that’s why I took immediate action.”

CEO Ken Diehm said the City asked the Mayor to consider the urgency of the matter and move this forward as erosion posed imminent threat to essential community infrastructure.

“We regularly review and monitor coastal erosion and it is vital we take the necessary steps to protect our essential community and public infrastructure,” Mr Diehm said.

“With damage that occurred over the weekend, we can see that the toilet block at Rundle Park and the road near St Georges Beach is under great threat.

“We have to act fast and look at our options, hence why the Mayor has used his discretionary powers to ensure an interim solution can be implemented before any further damage occurs.”

The City have engaged specialist consultants Royal HaskoningDHV to develop a foreshore protection scheme for St Georges Beach. A report from the company showed that erosion was the result of short period wind generated waves coinciding with high water levels.

The City are now working off Haskoning’s recommendation for a low-crested sandbag groyne and sand replenishment works.

“We believe the groyne will help to capture the sand that is getting washed away and it will give us more time to work on a long-term solution not just for St Georges but for the rest of our coast including Sunset Beach and Drummond Cove,” Mr Diehm said.

Whitehill Road in Drummond Cove has also been under scrutiny following damaging storms over the weekend.

Mayor Van Styn said the process being undertaken to combat erosion could not be rushed.

“We are not trying to jump the gun and we are going through all appropriate processes. A long term solution is something that cannot be rushed,” he said.

“Sand is moving from the south to the north and we are working with specialists on the Beresford Foreshore and are following the Department of Planning’s coastal hazard risk management and adaptation planning guidelines (CHRMAP) process.

“We know this is a sensitive issue and we have engaged with the community to ensure we get the best outcome for our residents.”

Works at St Georges Beach are estimated to cost $650,000 and there is money in the 2015/16 budget to undertake the project.

The groyne and sand works will begin in the coming weeks and may take up to two weeks for completion.

Traffic management will be in place during this time. Motorists and pedestrians are advised to exercise caution and obey all warning signs and direction from authorised City personnel and contractors.

Coastal voices uniting in Geraldton

 Sorting through beach wrack on Geraldton's coast.

Sorting through beach wrack on Geraldton's coast.

Geraldton beach lovers are being called on to express their interest in joining a Geraldton-wide coastcare group.

The Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) is seeking to facilitate the establishment of the new group as well as bring together the number of dedicated coastcare groups already working on different sections of the Geraldton coastline, such as Drummonds Cove, Sunset Beach, Bluff Point and Point Moore.

The aim of this project is to establish a new umbrella coast care group across Geraldton that includes representatives from the existing groups and focuses on coastal issues that affect the entire Geraldton coast.

Geraldton’s coast is not only an important recreational asset for the community but it is also a very important ecosystem that requires community protection.

NACC Coastal and Marine Program Coordinator Dr Mic Payne said: “Most Geraldton residents feel a strong connection to their coast; it helps define our community and is a place where we go to relax.This new group will give local residents the capacity to become directly involved in managing this precious asset.”

Projects that the new group might undertake to help protect this environment include revegetating degraded dunes, managing pedestrian and off-road vehicle impacts, various community monitoring projects, controlling invasive weed species such as African Boxthorn and liaising with authorities on coastal erosion issues.

Dr Mic Payne said the group would provide more support for those wanting to volunteer their time in protecting the Geraldton coastline.

“Many local Coastcare groups are feeling the pressure of increasing impacts on coastal ecosystem whilst experiencing decreased Coastcare group membership. I hope that a broad membership base for this new group will help spread the workload and allow for frequent turn-over of office bearers to avoid burn-out,” he said.

The project is supported by the NACC and the City of Greater Geraldton, through funding from the the Department of Planning’s Coastwest Grants Program and the Australian Governments National Landcare Programme.

The inaugural meeting of the new group is planned for June this year.

CBH using solar to reduce some of their $2.2million power bill in Geraldton

Jo Predergast for the ABC:

"CBH Group Geraldton Port Zone manager Duncan Gray explains how solar power will reduce the centre's $2 million power bill."
Click here to listen to audio.

Great to see a sustainable approach to reducing energy costs from CBH.  

Help create a green city

 Join a community planting day this June.

Join a community planting day this June.

A green city has been identified as our community’s top priority and you can help make this vision a reality by taking part in community tree planting days.

The City is urging the community to be a part of the green transformation by joining in tree planting events which will be held in June.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the planting days were a result of community consultations.

“In previous public consultations we asked the public what would make Greater Geraldton a better place to live and we found that having a green city was a top priority,” he said.

“We are now asking for people’s help in making this priority a reality by joining in our community tree planting days.”

The first planting day is on Saturday 11 June from 10am-12noon with a free sausage sizzle afterwards and is being hosted by the Chapman River Friends. The planting will be on the corner of Swan Drive and Chapman Road, Sunset. Parking is at Spalding Park, where the group will return afterward for a BBQ.

The second will be at Back Beach on Saturday 18 June from 2pm to 4pm, with a sausage sizzle afterwards. Planting will be in the South Pipe dunes just south of the Surf Club. Parking will be available at the Surf Club.

Everyone is welcome to take part in the Community Planting Day, no gardening experience is necessary. Wear suitable clothes and bring your own gloves, hat, water bottle and hand spade if you have one.

This project is supported by funding through City of Greater Geraldton, the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and Green Army Program, and the West Australian Government’s State NRM Program.

For more information see the City of Greater Geraldton’s event calendar at www.cgg.wa.gov.au/events or phone the City on 9956 6600. 

 

Geraldton has the highest level of air pollution of any city in Australia according to W.H.O. - but what does that mean exactly?

  Shot of the Geraldton Esplanade from the air by @jthomas84_     

Shot of the Geraldton Esplanade from the air
by @jthomas84_

 

According to the recent data released by the World Health Organisation, Geraldton has the highest levels of air pollution of any city in Australia. An article from The Guardian (link) (the UK based publication, not the local newspaper) made the assertion based on the spreadsheet of data put out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) (link).  

But before you start wearing a gas mask full time, we want to go through the data to find out what it all means exactly, and if the assertion that Geraldton really has the highest level of pollution really stacks up. 


How exactly is air pollution measured?

Before we lose you with too many scientific terms, it may pay to explain exactly how air pollution is measured. 

Monitors measure two types of air pollution particles. Larger particles are called PM10. Smaller (invisible) particles are called PM2.5.

Sandeep Chowry, an environmental engineer, explains more on Quora (link)
 

  • Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. (i.e. µm which is basically a millionth of a meter.) Sources include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads. These tiny particles which are about 30 times smaller than the width of a hair on your head are small enough to get inhaled past our defensive nose hairs and into our lungs.
  • Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes. While PM10's story ends at the lungs, PM2.5 can pass from our lungs into our blood supply and be carried throughout our bodies thereby making them "the invisible killer"

The 12 month median PM10 particle rate for Geraldton was 22µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre), which is worse than Sydney, Perth or even New York. The WHO guidelines for a 12 month median for PM10 is 20µg/m3.

The PM2.5 particle rate for Geraldton was 10µg/m3. The WHO guidelines for a 12 month median for PM2.5 is 10µg/m3.

To put that in comparison, Perth, with 2 million people, measured 17µg/m3 for PM10 particles, and 8µg/m3 for PM2.5 particles, slightly better than Geraldton.

But here's where it gets interesting. 

Geraldton doesn't have a monitoring station for PM2.5 particles. We only measure PM10. So the World Health Organisation used a formula to essentially guess what the PM2.5 particles are for Geraldton. 


Here's what the Mayor of Geraldton had to say

We asked Mayor Shane Van Styn, who had seen the WHO data, what he thought about the assertion that Geraldton was the most polluted city in Australia. 

"Geraldton is a windy city on the coast," said Mr Van Styn. "The majority of PM10 pollution in Geraldton would be background, natural dust and sea salt, not man made toxic fumes like in a city. And the WHO data doesn't include places like Port Hedland or Karratha. The level of 22 µg/m3 is what you would expect for a windy, coastal city in Australia with higher than usual background crustal dust levels.

"Finer fraction PM2.5 is typically more from products of combustion, but importantly, PM2.5 for Geraldton was converted from PM10 measurement, not measured. So this number is likely going to over-estimate the actual PM2.5 levels for Geraldton.

"I would challenge that you cannot call any city which only just exceeds the WHO guidelines and mostly based on background levels, a “polluted city”, which conjures up images of smoke laden air, which is chokingly hard to breathe in.

"When looking at other pollutants such as NO2, SO2 and ozone, Gero would not even rate a mention, compared to large cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth."


So what's causing the high PM10 pollution levels exactly? 

According to historical data from the Dept of Environment Regulation (link), the days on which Geraldton's PM10 levels spiked dramatically were largely due to dust. Given Geraldton is directly downwind from Southgates sand dunes, surrounded by broadacre farming, and has a busy port in the middle of town, dust is an obvious culprit. Moreover, Geraldton is right on the coast and is so windy the trees grow sideways, so a decent percentage of the particles in the air are sea salt. 


Is that all?

A report on heavy metals in the air in Geraldton from 2011 (link) stated that "Air monitoring data during ship loading have indicated that dust levels up to 430 µg/m3 TSP and 150 µg/m3 PM10 have been detected within the Port. If ship loading is allowed to occur during on-shore winds then there is potential for dust to reach nearby residences."


Why doesn't Geraldton monitor PM2.5 ?

Great question. Geraldton suffers for several months each year when nearby farmers burn off stubble, blanketing the town in smoke, and Iluka's refinery is directly south (upwind) of the town. But the Department of Environment Regulation doesn't monitor pollution levels for PM2.5 in Geraldton yet. 

We asked Mayor Van Styn if he supported the idea of setting up facilities to measure PM2.5 in Geraldton, to put people's minds at rest, and to find out exactly what our PM2.5 is. 

"Absolutely. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t. We’re already doing the work to measure PM10, surely we can do the same for PM2.5.

"The issue of pollution has been raised fair and square by the World Health Organisation. Let's make a call to the Department of Environment Regulation to measure the air quality for PM2.5 in Geraldton and find out exactly what the levels are."

NACC (Northen Agricultural Catchment Council) CEO Richard McLellan said air pollution is something to be taken seriously. "Of all the forms of pollution, air quality is the one that most that affects human health," he said. "With water you generally know if you're drinking polluted water. But when it comes to air quality, most people don't know if they're breathing polluted air."

Mr McLellan also spoke to the indirect implications of air pollution. "There's social implications, but there's also economic. It affects tourism and people wanting to visit a place. This issue needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible."

Everything Geraldton has contacted the Department of Environment Regulation for comment, and at time of publication has not had a response. We will publish their response to the matter when we receive it. 


Setting up a PM2.5 monitoring station in Geraldton would go a long way toward nipping the issue in the bud, as Geraldton would know with certainty if the WHO figure of 10µg/m3 is accurate or not.