Rose Bay foreshore kept clean by Rose Bay Working Group.

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By Georgia Fullerton

The Rose Bay Working Group has set its sights on cleaning up Rose Bay’s polluted beaches.

At the group’s latest meeting on October 19, the area’s water quality improvement action plan was reviewed, and the group discussed improving signage and maintenance of dog poo bag dispensers along Rose Bay foreshore.

The group, which formed last year, includes Member for Vaucluse and Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Gabrielle Upton, representatives from Woollahra Council, Sydney Water, Roads and Maritime Services and residents.

The members of the group proposed asking Sydney Water to review and potentially change its sewer model and asking authorities to enforce penalties on party boat operators who allow revellers to throw rubbish into the water.

Deputy Mayor of Woollahra Council, Mary-Lou Jarvis, said: “We look forward to building on the positive work the Rose Bay Beach Working Party has achieved, this includes fixing sewer discharge from entering Rose Bay from the stormwater channels. Woollahra Council has undertaken additional water quality monitoring and has completed a clean-up targeted at removing broken glass.”

Rose Bay’s beach water quality, which is susceptible to stormwater pollution, was rated “poor” in the latest report from NSW waterways.

Ms Jarvis said: “Stormwater pollution is the major contributor – Rose Bay Beach takes longer to recover from stormwater pollution due to lower levels of tidal flushing”.

In 2017, water quality was impacted by significant rainfall over the year including the wettest March in Sydney since 1975.

As a result of the group’s discussions Sydney Water is investigating the feasibility of raising the weir level at the Ian St overflow to reduce discharges.

Ms Jarvis emphasised the positive effects of a healthy seagrass meadow on water quality: “At our last meeting I passed on advice from Professor Bruce Thom who had alerted me to the importance of seagrasses and their potential to improve water quality. I asked that the Council apply for funding before the December deadline to assist in the reinstatement of the seagrasses”

Ms Jarvis said: “The water quality of beaches in the Woollahra Municipality have been rated ‘good’ or ‘very good’ in the recent Beachwatch Report. We look forward to building on the positive work the Rose Bay Beach Working Party has achieved to ensure that Rose Bay Beach’s water quality becomes equivalent to the high standard of Woollahra’s other beaches.”

As well as trying to reduce stormwater waste and improve the area’s ecosystem, the group looked into the habits of locals and tourists which contribute to the poor water quality, including the failure of dog owners to pick up after their pets, and rubbish being thrown in the water from nearby party boats.

“Improved beach cleaning schedules have also been implemented, and Council has also increased patrols of the beach by its Companion Animal Officer, to help residents learn about the on and off leash dog areas and the need to clean up after their animals,” said Ms Jarvis.

“Plans have also been made to ensure dog litter bag dispensers are refilled more frequently.”