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Flashy plans for dirty creek

03 Apr 2019

Flashy plans for dirty creek Image

By David Schout

The City of Melbourne has put forward ambitious plans to revitalise the Docklands section of Moonee Ponds Creek as a “biodiversity hotspot”.

It has also proposed a bridge connection over Victoria Harbour to connect Docklands with Fishermans Bend.

Despite the ambitious plans, complete with impressive renders of the waterway’s possible future, the council holds no jurisdiction over the creek.

It hopes the document will influence key bodies such as Melbourne Water and VicTrack, which own or manage most of the area along the tributary.

On March 19 the council voted in favour of a draft Moonee Ponds Creek Strategic Opportunities Plan.

Environment portfolio chair councillor Cathy Oke said the draft plan could be viewed as an “advocacy tool”.

“Moonee Ponds Creek has been negatively impacted over many years by industry and infrastructure,” Cr Oke said.

“This plan sets a vision to rehabilitate the creek and advocate for the delivery of a series of projects to increase its ecological, economic and recreational value.”

Within Docklands, the plan proposes a “wetlands wilderness on the doorstep of the central city”.

The document advocated for the area to become a new habitat for threatened species.

It also includes plans for a “Fishermans Bend Connection” over Victoria Harbour, parallel to the Bolte Bridge.

Details however, are scant in the document.

The 25km Moonee Ponds Creek, which starts near Melbourne Airport and ends on the outskirts of Docklands (where it merges with the Yarra River), has been neglected for many years.

Used as a travel route and water source for the Wurundjeri tribe, the course of the creek was altered soon after European settlement in 1835.

Between 1940 and the 1980s, Melbourne Water concreted much of the creek to control flooding and erosion, a move that has since been widely criticised.

The creek now operates largely as a drain and its water quality is rated by the Environment Protection Authority as zero out of 10 – a level of pollution that kills most organisms.

Greens councillor Rohan Leppert said it was vital the creek’s future was prioritised.

“Right since settlement, this creek has always been in the too-hard basket,” Cr Leppert said.

“We’ve never been able to either remove the swamps and make it habitable or deal with the noxious industries in a way that can manage future generations and strategic planning.”

Further community consultation on the creek’s future will be sought before a final plan is put to the council later this year.

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