Litter chokes Docklands waterways

Docklands’ waterways were polluted by tonnes of rubbish and debris last month, following heavy rain.

According to a City of Melbourne spokesperson, the Yarra River and Victoria Harbour were inundated with flood debris, washed down the system following heavy rain on June 1.

“Due to the amount of debris, resources are stretched – with normal harbour cleaning temporarily on hold while efforts are concentrated in the worst affected areas,” the spokesperson said.

“This course of action has proven to be the most productive with the City of Melbourne’s harbour cleaning contractor removing large amounts of non-organic matter.”

Rubbish and litter was seen throughout Docklands’ waterways, with a large cluster of plastic bottles and other litter observed at NewQuay.

Local dragon boaters also reported having to paddle through rubbish in the days following the storm.

Yarra’s Edge was one of the worst affected areas in Docklands.

The City of Melbourne spokesperson said more than 40 cubic metres of debris was removed from Marina YE at Yarra’s Edge in the week after the storm.

According to Marina YE manager Alan Cayzer, rubbish in the harbour was not unusual and the after-effect of the recent storm was minor.

“We’ve had storms that have impacted on the marina in a much bigger manner,” he said.

Mr Cayzer said deflector booms in place at the entrance of the marina weren’t able to stop everything entering the marina.

He said the clean up following the storm took four days, with help from City of Melbourne and its waterways cleaning contractor.

Mr Cayzer said he had witnessed plenty of rubbish float down the river following storms. On one occasion he saw an entire outdoor setting float down.

The most recent storm saw a small boat float down the river from Abbotsford and get stuck on one of the marina’s deflector booms.

Mr Cayzer also noticed hundreds of plastic planter guards float down the river and believes they were used in a large-scale planting activity.  

Parks Victoria operates litter traps in the upper sections of the Yarra River, but during events of heavy rain, it appears the traps overflow quickly.

With multiple authorities, including the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Parks Victoria, City of Melbourne and Melbourne Water, having governance over different parts of the river, it’s hard to determine who is responsible for managing the pollution problem.

Mr Cayzer said he believed the health of Melbourne’s waterways was everybody’s responsibility.

But he said he would like an authority to take control of the issue.

“Yes I’d like somebody, an authority, to come out and say a river committee is going to do this and this is how we’re going to do it,” he said.

“I don’t believe it’s about rubbish in the marina. I don’t believe it’s about who’s going to clean it up. It’s about who’s going to stop it happening.”

Mr Cayzer suggested that one solution would be to divert litter and debris into different areas for collection.

Mr Cayzer said the river was one of Melbourne’s key attractions and, from a tourism perspective, keeping it clean should be a priority.