Too much rubbish!

Too much rubbish!

By Meg Hill

Rubbish in Docklands’ waterways has remained an eyesore in recent months despite the lack of foot traffic and implementation of new technologies by the council.

Victoria’s third wettest April on record worsened the issue significantly. The council collected 60.7 cubic metres of litter and debris that month in Docklands, more than triple the 18.9 cubic metres collected in April 2019.

City of Melbourne environment portfolio chair Cr Cathy Oke said large quantities remained to be seen in the waterways.

“We continue to see large amounts of litter and organic material ending up in Docklands as it is washed downstream along the 240km length of the Yarra River,” Cr Oke said.

“We have already increased cleaning in Docklands, including Harbour Esplanade, Collins Landing and Yarra’s Edge.”

Cr Oke said the council had brought in three extra skip bins to respond to the increase “but it is an ongoing battle”.

She also said the council was reviewing its cleaning contract for Docklands in anticipation for a wetter than average year as predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Earlier this year the council introduced Seabins in Docklands’ Yarra’s Edge, but have experienced problems with the maintenance on the bins and causing danger to ducklings.

They were taken out of the water soon after instalment and need replacement parts to be reinstalled.

Alex Devantier, who has parked his boat at Yarra’s Edge Marina since last year, said the rubbish problem there was worse than anywhere else he had been.

“I’ve never seen anything this bad anywhere in the world. Before here I was at Hastings and after that Mt Eliza, they are completely different things because of the catchments, but this has been going on a long time and they haven’t kept the river clean,” he said.

“It’s really gross, it’s damaging our boats and they [the council] don’t seem to care.”

“Just recently they seem to be a bit more on the ball with closing the marina. They take a barrier across and stops rubbish coming in but if they’d do it too late it also traps the rubbish that’s already in there.”

“But in general, it’s just very bad. The rubbish being in water is always damaging boats as they pump water through their engine to keep it cool, and I know of two times specifically that the damage was really bad and I had to say something.”

Cr Oke said the council had recently made arrangements with a new cleaning technology provider to clean rubbish around Victoria Harbour.

“We have also engaged Queensland-based specialist water cleaners Ocean Crusaders, which has equipment that can clean in-between the rocks on the shoreline along Harbour esplanade and Collins Landing, and look forward to starting additional cleaning as soon as travel restrictions allow,” Cr Oke said.

“We also continue to work with other organisations including Parks Victoria and Yarra River Keeper to raise awareness of the issue and increase collections upstream.”

“Ultimately, the best solution is to stop litter getting into the water in the first place.

The council has also reported an increase in residents dumping rubbish on Docklands streets since the pandemic started.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said the council had spent a lot of money dealing with the issue.

“The City of Melbourne spends more than $160,000 a year disposing of dumped rubbish. We collect more than 1200 tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish per year,” he said.

“The City of Melbourne has recorded a 17 per cent increase in dumped rubbish in May and an 18 per cent increase so far this June.”

“We had 698 reports of illegally dumped rubbish in April, 502 cases this May, and we’ve had 425 cases so far this June.”

Cr Wood said local laws officers were on patrol for dumped rubbish and would fine anyone caught offending •

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