Bird Lake

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation regarding Bird Lake at Port Augusta.


The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 15:04 :00 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation regarding Bird Lake at Port Augusta.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Further to the problems that have been experienced via the Port Augusta community in relation to the ash dam that was uncovered due to storm damage, there is an issue with a site known as Bird Lake, which is owned by the local council and is currently emitting a strong stench due to the breakdown of algal and other organic material as the lake dries out. Remediation of the lake is a very serious issue for the community and the local council, I understand, does not have the funds to deal with the work itself. My questions to the minister are:

1.Who does it believe has liability for the remediation of Bird Lake?

2.Is the government aware as to when the report into remediation of Bird Lake will be released?

3.Has the government committed any funding to cover the cost of remediating Bird Lake?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 15:05 :17 ): My answers to the questions are: council, no and no. Having said that, the government is working closely with the council which owns Bird Lake. There is a long history of council's association with that area and how it is related to the former operators of the power station.

It is clearly land that is owned and under the care of the local council but as I understand it the potential for that area to dry out and cause odour problems for the local community, as well as nuisance problems in terms of insects, is quite apparent. I have offered personally and I know my leader Mr Maher has also offered for the government to consider what assistance we might be able to provide to council in fulfilling its obligations to its community of managing that area known as Bird Lake properly.

I am advised that the cessation of the water flow from the power station and subsequent drying out is likely to impact on the environment and the amenity and cause nuisance to the local community without the appropriate management. As the Hon. Michelle Lensink said in her explanation, it is unlikely, given the magnitude of the problem, that council will be able to afford, under its existing operating conditions, to take the sort of action that will be required. I understand that provision has been made by Flinders Power in terms of odour suppressant and that has been supplied to council and has been, as far as I understand it at least, applied to some effect. However, the council, of course, is leading this process to identify a long-term solution.

I have asked the EPA to work with council, and I understand that Mr Maher, as leader of the state government taskforce working with them, has asked them as well. Council has engaged, as far as I understand it, an independent consultant to provide a report on management options for the lake which will be given to council. My understanding is that they should receive that by the end of this month. As I said, the EPA has offered to assist with consultation and engagement with the community on the future management options for Bird Lake.

As I said earlier, the government is very concerned to help council find a solution to this problem for the local community. It is land that is owned and under the care and control of council but, having said that, we understand it may be something that they do not have the sufficient expertise to manage and perhaps do not have the appropriate funding required to address such a problem over such a large expansive area.