Queanbeyan River Rubbish

While Queanbeyan has been in the news fairly recently due to “the potential for partially treated sewage material” to flow from Queanbeyan’s water treatment plant into the Molonglo River and on into Lake Burley Griffin, there is another water quality issue in our region that really should be brought to some more people’s attention and hopefully be dealt with better.

That issue is the large amounts of rubbish that litters the banks of the Queanbeyan River from Queanbeyan and downstream into the ACT. Due to the recent high rainfall and flooding, rubbish is now trapped in trees, reeds, brambles and bushes along the river. They say a picture tells a thousand words, so below is my 12,000 word essay on the subject in the form of 12 photos taken on the river from a kayak on Monday 12 September in the area between Morriset Street and the ACT border at Oaks Estate (approximately 1km distance).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It looks like a third world country along the river in parts, which is really sad, as it really is a beautiful river with generally clean water and wildlife including platypus. In fact, here is a long hydrophone (underwater microphone) audio recording I captured just over 12 months ago of a platypus a few hundred metres upstream from where many of these photos were taken. The recording goes for over 30 minutes in its entirety, which will be boring for a lot of people, but if you go to 25 minutes in you can clearly hear the platypus foraging for food in the gravelly river bed.

I’m sure the local council is trying to deal with this issue, and I emailed to try to find out more information from them, but have not yet received a response to my email sent 4 days ago. Then I figured out that I should probably do an internet search for the issue, and found an article in The Queanbeyan Age from July which includes a Queanbeyan local suggesting a community cleanup but with that idea being rejected due to potential public liability issues.

The public liability issue is a real thing, with most areas with rubbish along the river only being accessible from the river, and then it being very difficult to collect the rubbish from trees, reeds, brambles etc., especially from running water at a variety of water depths. I imagine it would be a WHS nightmare for council staff.

According to the article the council is “working towards a solution”, which is great, but I also found that some people had organised their own community clean up anyway. Good on them I say, and I’ll keep an eye out for any future ones so I can try to help out.

Cleaning up the existing mess is one thing, but one has to wonder where all this rubbish has come from. The density is quite impressive, in a depressing way. Certainly there must be ways we can stop this much litter getting into our waterways in the first place.

If anyone knows more about clean ups etc. then please get in touch to let me know more.


Queanbeyan River rubbish in the News:

River rubbish sparks call for community clean up
The Queanbeyan Age – 14 July 2016

Hard rubbish retrieval costly
Canberra Times – 18 February 2014


Leave a comment