By DAVID MOASE
A SPILL of raw sewage has forced the closure of Coffs Creek to all forms of fishing and shellfish collection for the next two months.
According to Coffs Harbour City Council's director of city services, Stephen Sawtell, the spill appears to have been caused by a blocked pipe adjacent to Curacoa Street.
As a result, sewage was discharging into the Curacoa Street drain and running into the creek.
Mr Sawtell said the council had been alerted by a resident on Tuesday night and had quickly pumped the pipe clean and cleared the blockage.
"It's hard to estimate how long the spill had been happening, it could have been a couple of days," he said.
"It could have been kilolitres that ran into the creek."
Mr Sawtell said water quality tests in the upper reaches of the creek immediately after the spill had shown elevated faecal coliform levels.
Results from tests in the lower reaches were not irregular.
"Subsequent testing has shown that the levels have rapidly decreased in the past 24 hours, which indicates we have found the source," Mr Sawtell said yesterday, adding that testing would continue for the next week.
Faecal coliform levels near the mouth of the creek were not high enough to pose a risk to swimmers.
NSW Department of Primary Industries director general of agriculture and fisheries, Richard Sheldrake, said the fishing ban was introduced due to concerns for public health.
"We have banned all fishing activities, including collecting shellfish from the area, due to concerns that consumption of fish may pose a food safety risk," he said.
"The two-month closure allows sufficient time for the spill to disperse and any contaminants that may have been present in the shellfish to pass through them."
The area of the fishing closure covers the whole of Coffs Creek as far as 200 metres around the mouth of the creek, including parts of Park Beach.