Shire “disappointed” by stormwater litter at Bells

January 30, 2022 BY

A still from a video taken by Surfrider Foundation in early January shows rubbish flowing on to Bells Beach from a stormwater drain. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE Surf Coast Shire Council says it’s “disappointing” that litter continues to wash on to Bells Beach and into the Point Addis Marine National Park from stormwater outlets despite efforts to improve infrastructure.

A video posted online by the Surfrider Foundation after rain on January 7 shows assorted litter like drink cans and bottles, food wrappers, plastics and cigarette butts discharging from a drain at the base of the steps from the lower Bells carpark, onto the beach and into the ocean.

“This has been a problem for the last ten or so years since the old outfall outlet was removed,” Foundation’s Surf Coast Secretary Darren Noyes-Brown said.

“The old outlet consisted of a stormwater pit with a grated cover which allowed the water out but retained most of the litter.

“The stormwater system is outdated and aims to collect rainfall and send it to the ocean.”

Mr Noyes-Brown says this system also fails to prevent other pollutants such as nitrogen phosphorous and heavy metals commonly found in roadway and carpark runoff from ending up in the ocean.

Council have installed litter baskets in two of the many stormwater pits in the Bells carpark, “but it is obvious that either the baskets are overflowing and haven’t been cleaned out or litter is entering the system in pits that don’t have litter traps,” he said.

A Council spokesperson says the most recent litter issue was “unexpected” because the entire stormwater system in the lower car park was cleaned out by a contractor on 27 October 2021, in preparation for the installation of a gross pollutant trap (GPT) that will capture and retain litter and sediment.

Council says the upgrades are part of the Bells Beach Coastal Management Plan and notes that two GPTs have already been installed in the upper Winki Pop car park in 2020.

The Surfrider Foundation has been drawing attention to the issue of waste flowing on to the iconic beach and into the ocean for decades.

In its 2002 submission for the first Bells Beach Coastal Management Plan it asked for filtration and re-direction of stormwater into vegetated areas on land and in 2003 when the Point Addis Marine
National Park was established at Bells, “called for full stormwater treatment including removal of large litter, sediment and other pollutants.”

A spokesperson for council said “stormwater management at Bells does not have any simple solutions, given the need to minimise excavation works to avoid damage to cultural heritage values, the need to avoid directing stormwater to sites which might contribute to destabilizing cliffs or foredunes, and the need to avoid directing stormwater to areas of sensitive remnant vegetation.”

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