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UNCLOGGING THE DERWENT HELP AVAILABLE TO PREVENT POLLUTION FROM BUILDING SITES

Help is available to Tasmanian builders, homeowners and local Councils to prevent pollution from building sites.

The Director of the Derwent Estuary Program, Christine Coughanowr, said that an estimated 8000 tonnes of sediment reaches the Derwent estuary each year via stormwater runoff; and a large percentage comes from soil erosion from building sites.

"Soil erosion from building sites is a major source of pollution in southern Tasmanian waterways and a single building site can lose up to four truckloads of soil in a single storm," Ms Coughanowr said.

"While soil erosion occurs naturally, it can be intensified by building. The soil that moves off building sites can clog the stormwater system and transport pollutants including oils, heavy metals and nutrients into local waterways.

"Excessive amounts of sediment can also kill fish and aquatic plants, silt up streams, and block stormwater pipes, which can cause flooding."

To address the problem, the Derwent Estuary Program has produced a series of fact sheets on soil and water management and provided sediment control kits to Councils with funding from NRM South.

Dr Kathleen Broderick, CEO of NRM South, said the fact sheets are designed for use by builders, homeowners and Councils to minimise soil erosion and control sediment run-off.

"These sheets will be a useful tool right from the planning stage through to the hand-over to the property owner," Dr Broderick said.

"The sheets are designed to help builders save money by providing information on legal obligations to avoid fines, as well as advice on how to improve wet weather working conditions for early completion of buildings."

Ms Coughanowr said that on-the-spot fines of can be issued for discharging pollutants including sediment, with a maximum penalty of ,000 if taken to court.

The sediment control kits contain filter socks and filter bales filled with compost to capture and treat sediment and pollutants that would otherwise end up in the stormwater system or urban waterways.

They also provide better treatment than sand bags and hay bales.

"Sediment control kits have been provided to the six local councils that border the Derwent Estuary, along with training to explain how they work, so they can lead the way in improving work practices," Ms Coughanowr said.

"More than 1,000 filter socks and filter bales were issued and over 100 council staff briefed on their use. We anticipate that annual sediment loads to the Derwent will be reduced as a result."

The fact sheets on soil and water management can be downloaded from the Derwent Estuary program website by clicking here and following the links to the stormwater pages.

Contact your local Council for more information about building site legal requirements and management.