Rockingham residents passionate about state of the Pond

PIC: L-R: Sam Assaad, Mayor Barry Sammels and Rod Fielding address residents at Bent Street Boat ramp.
PIC: L-R: Sam Assaad, Mayor Barry Sammels and Rod Fielding address residents at Bent Street Boat ramp.

ROCKINGHAM Mayor Barry Sammels and city staff were confronted by 80-100 residents angry about rotting seaweed at popular kiteboarding spot the Pond on October 4.

Many claimed the wrack (seaweed) was making some sick and was killing marine life.

Mayor Sammels, councillors Deb Hamblin and Katherine Summers, Engineering & Parks Services Director Sam Assaad, Health and Building Services Manager Rod Fielding and Sustainability and Environment Co-ordinator Natalie Elliot fronted the meeting that was organised by Safety Bay resident Tom Mannion.

“I was happy with the turnout and that councillors fronted to give residents opportunity to discuss, but very disappointed that Madeleine King did not respond, DPAW, DER, WA Health and the Water Corporation declined and Mark McGowan did not attend,” Mr Mannion said.

Representative for Kiteboarding WA, Ieka Verkuil spoke about why the area was valued by competitors.

“The Pond is a unique flat water spot for kite surfing and wind surfing – in Safety Bay we are getting a strong steady sea breeze from October to March in warm weather,” she said.

“This combination isn’t easy to find elsewhere in the world.

“Kite surfers from Norway, France, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands and Brazil all say the same things about it.

“We are devastated to see the current state of it and the lack of action and responsibility taken by council to keep The Pond alive.

“Seaweed is piling up and floating around in ditch-water resulting in smells that bad you can barely breathe and feel like you need to vomit when you pass that area.

“Lots of dead fish that are washed ashore.

“Symptoms like a rash or itchy skin, nausea, fatigue are a few of the health issues kite surfers experience after being in contact with the water in the Pond.

“To keep the Pond alive we would like to ask the council of Rockingham to take responsibility by first of all listening to what has been said today and accordingly take action.”

City staff empathised with residents concerns and conceded there was an issue with the smell from the rotting seaweed.

They agreed to do further testing and advocate on residents’ behalf for a longer term solution to keep the area clean and healthy for residents’ use.

Mr Mannion is planning to put forward a petition to the Rockingham MP, Premier Mark McGowan.

“I was happy that they will test for a wider range of contaminants but suspect when the results come back they will have no option but to close the pond down,” he said.

“As Ieka said she smells like poo when she comes out. It has increased the focus so it is a positive step in the right direction.

PROPOSALS RESIDENTS WANT ACTIONED BY THE CITY OF ROCKINGHAM:

1. Stop dumping contaminated drain water into this shallow water area that consequently causes health issues for flora, fauna and humans.

2. Ongoing maintenance in the form of dredging to keep the designated water channel open for boats access, water flow into the Pond area and prevention of seaweed piling up.

3. Seaweed management in the form of ongoing removal to prevent accumulation of seaweed and consequently the smell and health issues.