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Lake Pertobe

Environmental issues at Lake Pertobe

News Article Date: 
Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Lake Pertobe is currently the focal point of two separate environmental issues.

Algae in the lake

Warning signs advising people to avoid contact with the water in Lake Pertobe are being removed.

As of March 5, 2019, a second round of testing has shown that the level of blue-green algae in the lake is below the alert level for recreational water.

Signs had been erected in February after tests indicated the levels of algae were considered a public health risk.

Lake Pertobe is part of Warrnambool’s drainage system and the lake system receives phosphorus and other nutrients from the broader Warrnambool catchment.

In dry, warm conditions this can lead to algal blooms.

Monitoring of the lake will continue.

 

Sick and dead birds at various locations including Lake Pertobe

A number of birds have been found either dead or showing signs of illness, at various sites across the municipality

Birds have been tested and none have returned results indicating Avian Botulism is present. However the visual symptoms suggest that this is the cause.

What the public should do - a key concern is for other animals, in particular domestic cats and dogs. Please keep your dogs and cats away from any dead or sick wildlife.

Council has staff working seven days a week at Lake Pertobe. Along with their usual duties they have been gathering bird carcasses. Members of the public have also collected carcasses either outside Council staff working hours or in places yet be re-inspected by staff.

There has been some discussion about whether Council should ban feeding bread to ducks.  Victorian Government legislation protects wildlife but without State legislation supporting a ban on feeding ducks it is unlikely Council could impose such a ban.

The nutrient load entering Lake Pertobe from bread is not considered significant, particularly in comparison to the run-off from roads and drains. The key factors in the recent algal bloom have been dry and hot conditions.

Council also has inquiries from time to time about herbicides used at Lake Pertobe and elsewhere around the municipality.

In relation to weed control methods other than glyphosate-based herbicides, Council has used a steam weeder in its caravan parks. However, this unit is currently not suited to meeting the city’s maintenance needs across 400ha of open space. Council continues to explore weed control options and has recently reviewed information on other steam weeder units that will be tested in Warrnambool.

In October last year Council resumed using glyphosate-based herbicides in parks and gardens after a temporary suspension following a legal case in the United States and questions from the community about the safety of using glyphosate.

In determining whether herbicides are safe to use Council takes advice from the Australian regulator of agricultural chemicals: the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

The Authority has, over many years, advised that glyphosate was safe to use provided it was applied in accordance with product directions.

In September last year the Authority reiterated that “glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic risk to humans and that there are no grounds to place it under formal reconsideration.” 

Council subsequently made a decision to once again use glyphosate to control weeds.

The careful use of herbicides is important in enabling Council to efficiently maintain our parks and gardens.

It is also an important part of landcare operations where weeds are eradicated before any planting of native species.

Council staff are fully trained in the use of herbicides and the staff who mix and apply herbicides are required to complete the relevant accredited training courses.

For details on the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s recommendations on glyphosate go to: www.apvma.gov.au/node/13891

 

 

 

 

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