9 October 2023

The time is right to clear snake-infested swamp, Gungahlin community group says

| Ian Bushnell
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The swamp that has grown up near Yerrabi Pond in Gungahlin has been an issue for many years. Photos: Friends of Yerrabi Pond.

An ever-expanding swamp next to Yerrabi Pond in Gungahlin is an eyesore infested with snakes and vermin, and come summer will produce a stench that will make the area unbearable, according to a local community group.

Friends of Yerrabi Pond, which has previously successfully lobbied the ACT Government for the water feature to be cleaned up, now has its focus on the up to two-metre-high vegetation that has grown near the pond over many years, fed by stormwater from nearby high-rise apartment blocks.

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The group says the swamp is dangerous and detracting from people’s enjoyment of the Yerrabi Pond.

The problem is an overgrown drain that is preventing the stormwater from making its way into the pond.

They have written to Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) about the problem, but although the drain is earmarked for remediation at some point in the future, the only remedy from TCCS at present is to mow around the edges of the swamp.

In email exchanges seen by Region, TCCS says mowers cannot work in the swamp because it would need to dry out completely.

The overgrown drain that is the source of the problem is on the to-do list.

TCCS told the Friends of Yerrabi Pond that the 2023-24 ACT Budget committed $3.2 million to new and upgraded public facilities and infrastructure on both sides of the pond.

“I have asked that staff from our stormwater management team have a look at the drainage issues to which you refer and I am pleased to say that the irrigated areas of the Yerrabi Ponds foreshore will be mowed in the coming days,” TCCS said.

“The area around the drain won’t be mowed until our staff can be sure the area has dried out sufficiently to allow the use of ride-on mowing machines.”

The friends acknowledge that removal of the vegetation is a major task but say the swamp will never dry out sufficiently for a mowing job.

They argue the swamp is now the driest it has ever been, with no water flowing under the path into the pond, and there is an opportunity to burn it.

“If it is done, not only will it remove the vegetation and dry out the area, it will remove the snakes, other vermin, mosquitoes and the unpleasant smell that pervades the area in the summer,” the group told TCCS.

This, however, is the responsibility of the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, to which the Friends of Yerrabi Pond have written, urging that the vegetation be burned off.

“The rationale for wanting the work done now, is that it is the driest we have seen that area for many years, and with the current weather situation it is likely to be the best time in the last decade or more to ameliorate,” the group told EPSDD.

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The issue is now with Minister Chris Steel’s office after local MLA Leanne Castley took up the group’s cause.

“I have sent your concerns onto the Minister’s office and asked if they can provide a date as to when they plan on restoring the drain and doing the remediation works,” Ms Castley told the Friends of Yerrabi Pond.

“I agree, this isn’t good enough.”

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Would involving Ngannawal people to get this wetland functioning at its best, be a way to go? Could be worth asking, and providing some support for it.

The ACT desperately needs a Parks and Garden department to oversee the maintenance of our many parks and green spaces. Just mowing is not maintenance!

William Newby9:52 pm 11 Oct 23

Clicked on this article about “clearing out the snake infested swamp” expecting it to be a detailed analysis of ACT politics and the Greens/Labor government.

Seems to be a small wetland, but one that’s way off natural balance and also not well managed. As with a great deal of Canberra’s public vegetated spaces, there’s no budget or effort allocated to develop its environmental virtues. Wetlands are a real opportunity, in the right hands.

It was easily foreseen before the building works occurred on southeastern border of Forde, we literally watched them back fill flood plains to build there. When that happened I knew there would be draining issues and I have no town planning or engineering qualifications. They simply ‘dug out’ drainage and as soil filled land does, grass grew there. It needed concrete drainage at bare minimum like is around Nicholls and Ngunnawal.

So they want the natural environment and animals removed so they can better enjoy the natural environment….

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