Lewis Huitema enjoyed playing in the mud at the Ayr Creek lagoon last Thursday. mm073918

By Matt Male

NEITHER the Bass Coast Shire Council nor the consultants paid thousands of dollars to investigate it know how to stop the odour during summer at the Ayr Creek lagoon.
It follows a five-month investigation into the issue, and a subsequent report which has been trashed by councillors.
It had no “real” final solution, according to one councillor.
As summer inches closer, the council has set officers and consultants a timeframe of two months to find a solution to the odour.
Cr Julian Brown, at a council meeting last week, pushed to find out what nutrients were causing the smell and suggested ways to stop it.
He called for water testing, a Fluker Post (records changes to the lagoon over time), and to remove the algal mats (algae which sits on rocks and the water) at a maximum of once per year.
But only the Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield supported him.
He admitted it’s not a problem at this time of year, but during summer; there’s a lot of algae.
A community workshop earlier this year, he said, saw many people with differing views about where the nutrients were coming from.
“Some people were saying it’s coming from agricultural properties… others saying the residences beside the creek and others were saying ‘No, it comes from the ocean’.
“I thought the bulk of the nutrients are coming in from the ocean, but I don’t have any evidence of that.”
He said the water monitoring would gather data about what kind of nutrients are entering the lagoon and which end they’re coming from.
“It’s clear we don’t have that data at the moment.”
The most practical one was physically removing the algal mats when it builds up over summer, he said.
That’s estimated to cost around $27,000 as a once-off. Volunteer environmental groups could help too, Cr Brown said.
Artificially opening the lagoon was too expensive and not long-lasting, he added.
His colleagues argued it was a natural process.
Cr Kent said if it was 10km away from the closest house, it wouldn’t be an issue. He also had concerns about the cost of removing the algae.
Cr Stephen Fullarton said it was only an issue “when people are here”.
“There’s no money in the budget to fix this recurring theme,” the Island ward councillor said.
“The removal of the mats seems to be an issue so maybe the visitors could all take a bit home.”
After his colleagues spoke, Cr Brown reiterated he was just trying to get something practical done.
Cr Les Larke said there was no real solution in the report, despite summer fast approaching.
He wanted the onus put back on the consultant, and successfully moved a motion for a report to be presented at council’s November meeting on resolving the odour issue.