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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Muddied Waters of Caalang Creek

Caalang Creek
in Hampden Park
I have received the following emails as a follow up to the Blog posting last night to do with the excavation works in the bed of Caalang Creek.

David Tranter came through today with this additional information. Well done, David.


Good Morning Friends!

The old earth dam on Caalang Creek at Main Street was breached last Monday morning by contractors working for the developer and a large amount of mud, silt and loose soil was released into the relatively pristine waters of Caalang Creek, covering the bed of the creek as far as North Street and beyond. No silt trap of any kind had been put in place until nearby neighbours complained to Council. Many thanks to Denis for following this matter up.

Helen and David Tranter met with Council staff and SCA on Tuesday morning who agreed that “the job could have been done better”, but didn’t seem too worried about the condition of the creek that we have been nurturing for the past few years. It seems that Council required the developer to strengthen the dam wall and this requirement was part of the Development Application which was ultimately approved by the DIPNR, the final authority.

If you are as concerned about this as we are, perhaps you might wish to address some searching questions to the responsible authorities. First port of call should be DIPNR at Wollongong, whose phone is 42-249-600. Questions you might like to ask include:

  • Why did Council’s Development Plan require the developer to strengthen the dam? – To what end?
  • If the dam was thought to be too weak to withstand a heavy deluge, wouldn’t it have been better to have no dam at all and let the flow (from the miniscule catchment upstream) run free?
  • If the old earthen dam was serving no useful purpose, why were developers allowed to mess with it?
  • Why did DIPNR approve Council’s Development Plan?
  • What measures did DIPNR or Council take to see that Caalang Creek would be protected when the Developers breached the dam?
  • Why wasn’t a DIPNR Officer present at the time to see it was done properly?
  • Why wasn’t the water in the dam pumped out onto the grass verges of Caalang Creek so it could filter gradually into the creek?
  • Why weren’t the neighbours notified beforehand ?
  • Why wasn’t REPS consulted, whose members have been rehabilitating Caalang Creek for the past 10 years or so?

David and Helen Tranter


This afternoon, Clr Larry Whipper responded to David's email:

Thanks David,

Trevor Martin rang me when the works first started. I got on to Council, but must say I was disappointed with the initial response to this matter. I spoke to Councils Peter Nunn after the site meeting yesterday and have discussed this matter with the Acting Director, Mark Pepping.

I am aware that DNR are the consent Authority. Mark has given me an undertaking to update me once we have spoken to them.

I will forward this email on to the appropriate people at Council. Maybe it can form part of our discussions with DNR.

I will raise the matter at Council tonight as well.



Caalang Creek
Tree Ferns on river bank
Lets hope that the Wingecarribee Shire Council can do something about this - now (if not too late) and for the future.

It was suggested to me privately, that a suitable penalty for a negligent developer might be to impose a time delay, in stead of a fine (after all such fines are merely built into the cost of future land sales - and passed on to the consumer, not borne by the developer). A time delay would be taken seriously by any developer.

An embargo of work for 6 months or a year would be a serious penalty to any developer, who would then be more careful about negligently (or deliberately) despoiling the environment.

What do you think? Comments welcomed below.

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