Leschenault Estuary in dire conditions: Farina

THE Leschenault Estuary and its surrounding waters are on the verge of collapse and in desperate need of respite, according to South West MLC Adele Farina.

Ms Farina called for “swift action” regarding the waterway following excessive algae growths and lack of oxygen leading to fish deaths.

The call follows a Department of Water report last August which found the estuary and associated waterways, namely the Preston and Collie Rivers, rated poorly.

“As the only estuary in WA situated behind a shore-parallel dune barrier, the Leschenault Estuary is a unique natural asset and in need of saving,” she said.

“Excess nutrients from farmland and rising salinity levels due to agricultural and urban land uses have resulted in the eutrophication of the rivers.

“River management must be funded and implemented to arrest and turn back the damage.”

Ms Farina also noted the importance of maintaining the waterway to ensure the health of the local dolphin population.

“Tens of thousands of tourists visit the Dolphin Discovery Centre each year, contributing millions of dollars to the local economy,” she said.

“The dolphin deaths in 2009 and a more recent death in December 2010 are concerning.”

Ms Farina appealed to the state government to reconsider its lack of funding toward the “environmental crisis”.

Leschenault Catchment Council chairman Mike Whitehead said the health of the Estuary had been on a gradual decline and even witnessed an algal bloom last week.

Mr Whitehead said Ms Farina’s assessment of the situation was “dead right”.

“In comparison to even 10 years ago the estuary’s health has declined and continues to do so,” he said.

“Intervention is far cheaper than trying to fix a problem once it has occurred and often things have gone too far to fix it anyway.

“We have an obligation to leave our environment in good condition for the next generation so they can enjoy all that we have.”

Mr Whitehead agreed additional state funding was the answer to preventing the Estuary’s deterioration.

Environment minister Bill Marmion said the water quality improvement plan sought to work with all sectors of the community to ensure the long-term protection of the estuary.