Sydney Harbour should be closed to ship waste and treated wastewater, says mayor

Curtains drawn over the white-tiled harbour despite nearly 70% of Sydneysiders wanting to return The mayor of Sydney is worried the city’s iconic Sydney Harbour is being polluted by increased consumption and used as…

Sydney Harbour should be closed to ship waste and treated wastewater, says mayor

Curtains drawn over the white-tiled harbour despite nearly 70% of Sydneysiders wanting to return

The mayor of Sydney is worried the city’s iconic Sydney Harbour is being polluted by increased consumption and used as a boating and waste dump.

Tom Bathurst, who has been in office for 12 years, has been studying global and local pollution hotspots and wants to create a ban on wastewater going to high levels. He also wants all discharges into the harbour from the harbour to be upgraded.

The proposed ban would also include the navy, which discharges sewage into the harbour and the police.

It comes after a Greiner Institute paper comparing Sydney and Melbourne showed the Victorian capital has significantly lower bacteria levels in the water while leaving NSW clean.

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“I keep coming back to the unique characteristics of Sydney, like its waterfalls, its frothy water, its electric pebbles that dance and that the water is a reef, that the breadth of the harbour is called a tail,” Bathurst said.

“The first place I’d look is where we discharge wastewater into the sea and say, ‘Right, that is the best place to dump it, because that water is a treatable filtration, whereas what we have is the opposite.

“I’m hopeful that before you’d blink you’d see a label and say this is a drinking water quality problem, and that is my problem.”

Recent research into the salt, algae and kelp in Sydney Harbor produced a 79% support rate for a return to seagrass and water lilies, which was seen as a crucial factor in restoring beaches, Bathurst said.

Despite the survey he believes a majority of Sydneysiders would like to see the “white swans come back”.

The Environment Protection Authority said Sydney Harbour water had been in the “top five” in all water quality measures used for around 20 years, including low bacteria levels, algae and nutrients.

The association’s report used data from the 2017 survey of environmental conditions around the globe, finding that some 30% of Australian waterways failed to meet the expected standard of environmental protection.

Other cities, including London, New York and Paris, are cleaning up their local waters, while 97% of Australia’s waterways were rated as “good” or “very good” to enter a drinking water order.

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