Saving the Dalmeny duck pond

LAST week’s torrential rain fell just as residents launched a campaign calling for improvements on the Dalmeny duck pond to prevent it from drying out.

The pond attracts much more than just ducks with local twitchers recording an amazing 62 species on and around its waters, but only last week the wetland was virtually dry after the recent lack of rain.

Leading the charge are Eucalyptus Drive residents Dr Paul Hattersley and Robert Serpchich who in recent weeks were dismayed to see their beloved pond almost completely dry.

Dr Hattersley has written to the Eurobodalla Shire Council general manager Dr Catherine Dale requesting action.

“The pond is no longer a ‘natural’ ecosystem but an altered ecosystem, one which requires management to maintain its function and environmental and aesthetic values,” he wrote.

“In order to maintain these values, please can ESC consider deepening the pond by removing sediment in at least some parts of the pond.

“This would maintain habitat and food sources for birds and other wildlife and also have considerable aesthetic benefits.

“The current weir probably requires repair and also perhaps could be raised slightly thus also deepening the pond, without causing any flood risk to homes in the area.”

Mr Serpchich this week placed petitions calling for council action at numerous locations around the Narooma area.

The good news is that council has already heard the call and a spokesperson told the Narooma News that minor repairs to the weir structure would be carried out this financial year.

But the request to deepen the pond would require significant investigation to assess the environmental impacts of the proposal and there were no funds allocated to undertake this work in the foreseeable future.

“The pond near Eucalyptus Drive in Dalmeny appears to have ephemeral properties which means that while it often holds water, it may dry out in periods of drought. Any work on the pond needs to take these cycles into account.”

The residents say the pond also fulfilled the role of taking in storm water for the neighbourhood in the absence of proper street drains in the area.

Council last year apparently excavated a deeper channel into the pond at the bottom of Eucalyptus Driver after recent storm damage to infrastructure including the new cycleway.

But since then there has also been increase seepage under or around the weir resulting in loss of water the residents say is more than in the past.

It was vital that it functioned properly and they argue the wetland needs to be managed as both an important natural and as part of the neighbourhood infrastructure.

The swampy area became a wetland after a weir was built and the then farmer in the area built the island.

Dr Hattersley suggested the weir could be raised to trap more water when it did rain while Mr Serpchich said deeping and removal of silt and overgrown weeds could be done in stages as resources allowed.

The Eurobodalla Natural History Society had also been contacted.

Read Dr Paul Hattersley full letter and see a full list of bird species below...

Dear Dr Dale

I am writing concerning improvements to the environmental value of the Dalmeny æduckpondÆ and nearby culvert infrastructure. The pond is bounded by Eucalyptus Drive and Dalmeny Drive.

The pond is now recognized as a significant freshwater wetland habitat, sustaining a wide variety of wetland bird species, fish, and invertebrates. It is also bordered in part by native vegetation (for example, Melaleuca). The pond is currently almost dry, and has been for some months. It dries out more quickly and more frequently now because the silt has built up.

Since Dalmeny has been developed, there is increased surface runoff and nearby soil erosion from house blocks in the pondÆs catchment, leading to significant sedimentation. All storm water from roofs and roads in the catchment flows to the pond. The pond therefore serves as an important sediment trap before water discharge to the ocean.

There is significant flooding of roads when the pond overflows and existing culverts cannot cope, in very high rainfall events. For example, on January 31st/February 1st 2010, such an event resulted in flooding over Dalmeny and Eucalyptus Drives, and washed away the shared pathway and surrounding soil. It would have been expensive for Council to repair the damage.

The pond is currently marked a æLions Nature ReserveÆ. I understand its permanent freshwater status was created by construction of a small concrete weir near the road some decades ago. Also, the island in the pondÆs centre was built at the same time; a deep circular trench was dug in the middle and the mud piled up to create an island.

These constructions, the development of Dalmeny homes and roads all around the pond, and the specific siting of Dalmeny and Eucalyptus Drives and their associated under-road culverts mean that the pond is no longer a ænaturalÆ ecosystem but an altered ecosystem, one which requires management to maintain its function and environmental and aesthetic values.

In order to maintain these values, please can ESC consider deepening the pond by removing sediment in at least some parts of the pond. This would maintain habitat and food sources for birds and other wildlife and also have considerable aesthetic benefits. The current weir probably requires repair and also perhaps could be raised slightly (thus also deepening the pond, without causing any flood risk to homes in the area).

Furthermore, adjustments to nearby culvert infrastructure would prevent the need for expensive repairs to restore infrastructure (e.g. the shared pathway) after flood damage, and would also reduce sediment deposition in the pond thereby increasing its lifespan and value as a sediment trap.

Without action, the pond will further deteriorate as a freshwater wetland habitat. Its valuable function to regulate flows and improve quality of water flowing to the ocean via Yabbarra Beach, will diminish. The area will become an unsightly, silted and stagnant swamp, current under-road drains will become blocked and more frequent damage to roads and shared pathway will occur.

Please can you investigate these issues and advise me how you can proceed to address them? I or Ray Morgan (62 Eucalyptus Drive) and others would appreciate discussing the issues with relevant officers.

I thank you in advance for your consideration.

Yours sincerely

Dr Paul Hattersley

Dr Paul Hattersley has seen a total of 62 different species of birds on the Dalmeny duck pond and surrounds over the last three years:

POND

Nankeen Night Heron, Black Swan, Coot, Purple Swamphen, Australian Wood Duck, Chestnut Teal, Dusky Moorhen, banded Rail, Large Egret, Little White Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Black Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Silver Gull.

SURROUNDS

Black-Shouldered Kite, Spur-Winged Plover, Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Musk Lorikeet, Little Corella, Galah, King Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Little Wattle Bird, Red Wattle Bird, Willy Wagtail, Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark, Currawong, Blackbird, Scaly Thrush, Grey Shrike Thrush, Satin Bowerbird, Figbird, Dollar Bird, Eastern Whipbird, Crested Bellbird, Welcome Swallow, New Holland Honeyeater, Lewin's Honeyeater, White-Plumed Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Grey-Breasted White-Eye, Scubwren, Superb Blue Wren, Eastern Robin, Jacky Winter, Butcher Bird, Black-Headed Cuckoo Shrike, Laughing Kookaburra, Red-Backed Kingfisher, Whiteheaded Pigeon, Crested Pigeon, Spotted Turtle Dove, Brush Bronzewing Pigeon, Brown Pigeon, Wonga Pigeon.

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