17 February 2022

Online stink over Yerrabi Pond comes as government reveals its 10-year plan

| Max O'Driscoll
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Yerrabi Pond

The algae, smell and overall appearance of Yerrabi Pond became a point of discussion online this week. Photo: Peter Kenworthy.

Just as the ACT Government unveiled its 10-year plan for Canberra’s lakes and ponds, a photo showing the state of Yerrabi Pond started raising a stink online.

Photos showing the extent of algal growth in the pond had commenters going into detail about the horrible smells coming from it.

There are, however, already plans in the works to improve the water quality at Yerrabi Pond as part of the ACT Government’s Healthy Waterways program.

Before the end of April this year, it intends to install floating wetlands to reduce the growth of nuisance algae in the lake. The wetland platform will be 1000 metres square in size – double the size of the similar, already successful project at Lake Tuggeranong.

However the ACT Government acknowledged that, beyond the floating wetlands, much more work is required to reduce nutrient levels at the pond to a point where nuisance algae becomes a thing of the past.


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The Healthy Waterways team will create a catchment plan for Yerrabi Pond in the next couple of years, including plans for both assets that filter pollution from stormwater and infrastructure that helps restore some of the Yerrabi catchment’s natural cleansing function.

Friends of the Yerrabi support the installation of the wetlands but are firm in wanting the settlement status of the pond to be upgraded to recreational. This is to ensure the government’s management of the area is in line with the standard set at other recreational ponds.

Founder of the group John Beagle suggested it was “ludicrous” the change hadn’t happened already and argued it was just another example of the “nappy valley” (Gungahlin) being sold short by the ACT Government.

“Without question, there are more people that use Yerrabi Pond than there are that use Lake Ginninderra,” Mr Beagle said.

“They’re not coming through there on their way to and from work. They’re going there to relax, enjoy and exercise, and all of this is totally ignored.

“Gungahlin is the fastest-growing area of Canberra and it’s got more young people, babies and children, and young parents than anywhere else in Canberra, but it hasn’t got the facilities. This pond has got great potential, but they haven’t spent money on it and they’re not inclined to spend money on it.”

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Mr Beagle compared the government’s management of Yerrabi Pond to Lake Tuggeranong, which was also initially considered a settlement pond. He argued that it would take one visit to Yerrabi for government figures to realise the level of recreational use at the pond each day.

Mr Beagle said his group was tired of hearing about meetings and planning and now wanted to see action.

“We’re trying to get people to realise that this is grossly unfair when they spend tens of millions maintaining the area around Lake Tuggeranong,” he said.

Greens MLA Andrew Braddock has been outspoken on the issues at Yerrabi Pond. He described it as the “heart of Gungahlin” and a meeting place for exercise and relaxation in nature.

“Investment has not kept up with demand from residents,” Mr Braddock said. “It needs enhanced lighting, seating, facilities for young people, signage and toilet facilities.

“One of the top priorities during my term in office is to revitalise Yerrabi Pond. I will push for improvements at every opportunity, and fully stand behind Friends of Yerrabi Pond and the residents of Gungahlin who want to see the area revitalised.”

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The ACT Government’s 10-year management plan details its four prime management duties at Yerrabi Pond: to prevent and control floods by providing a reservoir to receive flows, prevent and control pollution of waterways, provide for public use for recreation and habitat for fauna and flora.

To learn more about the Land Management Plan for Yerrabi Pond, and all the other lakes and ponds in the ACT, visit the YourSay Conversation website.

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Adviser to minister -‘I’ve got a cunning plan.’

If Mr Beagle wants Yerrabi pond to be treated like Lake Tuggeranong, I’d be careful what you wish for.

Really? Take a number Gungahlin (the ACT Government has given you a tram) , the development circus has moved on to Molonglo. You have become the new ‘Tuggeranong’, Nappy Valley title and all. The ACT Government has been in such a hurry chasing the rates and taxes associated with population increases that it does not have time to clean up behind it. Canberra’s satellite towns are thrown up and little attention as to how they will be served into the future. Yep, as a resident who moved here as a boy in 1963 (population nearly 70,000 – ABS figures) , I have watched as Canberra has evolved and not always for the better. Barr and Co. denigrate older residents as curmudgeons and blockers and say the future of Canberra is bright and shiny for the hip and happening new people. Some changes have been beneficial and many others have only benefitted developers and a select inner circle of political lackeys. Good luck.

Navaratnam Muralitharan10:42 am 21 Feb 22

When they mow the Lawn around the lake, they leave all the cuttings and with the wind all the cut grass goes in to the lake. The lawn close to the edge of the pond never mowed. As a frequent walker around the pond I do not enjoy looking at the pond.

The issue with that is the whole purpose of the pond is to catch all that crap so that it doesn’t cause issues downstream which is what they are trying to protect.

It doesn’t need lighting, facilities, toilets etc. Thousands of people use it as is now. The issue is the water. You can put all the facilities and features around it you want, but if its a disgusting stinking cum and algae filled pond with dead fish floating everywhere no ones going to use it. It desperately needs skimming and the surface weed cut back. The middle and northern end have been coated in a blanket of algae for weeks and there are more and more dead fish each day. Stop talking about facilities and fix the water.

Sadly improvements to the spillway are not mentioned. ACT Wildlife aided by ACT Fire and Rescue crews rescue many waterbirds and turtles every year that are trapped in the spillway. Sounds as if the water will be cleaner for the animals to drown in though.

ChrisinTurner3:51 pm 19 Feb 22

These problems won’t go away until we sweep our streets once a week like other cities.

What cities have the SUBURBAN streets swept once a week? I’ve never lived in one anywhere.

Also it won’t make a difference. What causes the problem isn’t solids that can be swept away rather fertiliser and soil that is washed from the suburbs into the stormwater drains.

Ironically the ponds are actually doing what they are designed to do and capture that before it flows further downstream into the river network were it would cause even more issues.

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