UP THE CREEK
By KATHERINE MULLARD
THE region's coastal creeks are in dire straits, and when the weather finally clears up people should be aware of potential risks to their health before going for a swim.
According to Coffs Harbour City Council's environmental services manager, Jeff Green, many of our coastal creeks are suffering in terms of ecological health.
"Five of our coastal creeks are in critical conditions, six are unacceptable, six are considered marginal, and two are consi-dered to be in a state of health," Mr Green said. Updated information on the state of our waterways will be released to the public next Thursday in Coffs Harbour City Council's State of the Environment 2005-06 Supplementary Report.
Mr Green said that the main creeks were safe to swim in, but the smaller creeks and tributaries are considered unfit for swimming due to high faecal coliform and enterrococci levels.
The creeks worst affected are Fiddamans Creek (near Emerald Beach), Jordans Creek (flows into
Diggers Beach), Middle Creek at Sawtell (a tributary of Bonville Creek), the section of Coffs Creek at Melitas Avenue, and Arrawarra Creek at Darlington Park.
People are also warned against swimming in our creeks in wet weather.
"It is recommended that people don't swim during or after heavy rainfall in any creek," Mr Green said, blaming urban runoff as the main cause of our unhealthy waterways.
Earlier this week, more than 200 delegates from across the state attended the 15th annual NSW Coastal Conference in Coffs Harbour to address coastal and marine sustainability.
The theme of the conference was 'Coasting Towards a Sustainable Future', and covered a broad range of topics including coastal lakes and waterways, water re-use, coastal zone management and marine biodiversity.
"This conference is particularly relevant to the Coffs Harbour region as we know we're facing a number of challenges in the coming years over issues relating to coastal and marine sustainability," Coffs Harbour Mayor, Cr Keith Roades, said.
The manager of the Solitary Islands Marine Park, Nicola Johnstone, said one of the key issues facing the region was the management of our estuaries and coastal zones.
"So many of us live so close to our marine environment and appreciate it," she said.
"We're in a climate here where development has increased, so how can we protect our estuaries?"