Shipping containers, furniture found on beaches as flood sweeps debris to the ocean

Hazardous debris is being swept along muddy rivers and dumped on NSW beaches as extensive flooding flushes shipping containers, fridges and gas bottles hundreds of kilometres to the ocean.

Residents in sodden parts of Sydney and NSW have reported cars, trees, outdoor furniture and dead animals being washed away as floodwaters inundated houses, blocked roads, covered vast stretches of land and triggered a multi-million dollar clean-up before days of torrential rain eased on Tuesday.

The rush of murky water from flood-affected inland areas throughout NSW to the ocean is dumping detritus along the coastline, posing threats to watercraft and deteriorating beach water quality.

Sydney’s worst floods in decades also prompted authorities to ramp up production from Sydney’s desalination plant even as billions of litres spilled from Warragamba – which provides 80 per cent of the city’s drinking water – and other dams.

NSW Maritime has urged people to stop all non-essential boating activity while “fast-moving and potentially deadly debris” flows through large tracts of the state’s river systems and waterways – including the flooded Hawkesbury River in north-west Sydney and the Georges River in the south.

The authority’s executive director Andrew Mogg said large trees, shipping containers, fridges, gas bottles, parts of cabins, and scaffolding were mixing with fast-flowing water en route to the ocean.

“This presents safety risks to boaters from debris and hazards which are often submerged or semi-submerged.”

Northern Beaches resident Ali Higgins said fridges, lounges, pillows and a spa bath from inland areas had washed up on beaches including Newport, Collaroy, Pittwater and Palm Beach this week.

“It was just scattered everywhere,” she said of the debris.

Mr Mogg said officers were still responding to problems caused by the floods and helping boaters with stricken vessels on Wednesday, even though the heavy rains had subsided around Sydney.

“Due to the centralised nature of the river system, this flood event is impacting all of our waterways, and not just those in flood zones, as water flows downstream,” Mr Mogg said.

“The flow of floodwaters across the state is severe and has impacts downstream some hundreds of kilometres away.”

Heavy rain also prompted warnings that pollution was either likely or possible at most beaches along Sydney’s coastline on Wednesday, according to the state government’s Beachwatch forecast.

“As a general precaution, swimming at Sydney’s ocean beaches should be avoided for up to one day after heavy rainfall or for as long as stormwater is present,” the warning said.

“The most obvious signs of stormwater pollution are water discolouration as well as debris in the water and on the tide line.”

Meanwhile, Sydney Water’s decision to order the desal plant to switch from its standby mode to producing water was “to mitigate against the risk of variable raw water quality due to the ongoing severe wet weather,” a spokesman said.

The plant was placed in its emergency response setting to enable a rapid production increase within 14 hours “to supplement the water supply for Greater Sydney…as a contingency”.

“We expect this may last for around two weeks, but we will continue to monitor the situation,” he said.

“This action will reduce the pressure on the city’s water treatment plants which are dealing with the impacts of the one-in-50-year flood event and ensure we continue to deliver high-quality drinking water.”


Source: Smh

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