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Water managers respond to community concerns of estuary smell

Water managers of the Vasse Estuary have responded to community concern about offensive odours in the estuary near Estuary View Drive. Wonnerup residents who live adjacent to the estuary have been experiencing unpleasant smells caused by decomposing algae which has been getting worse over the summer months.

Late last month the City of Busselton removed approximately three truckloads of algal mat along a 50 m stretch of the estuary adjacent to the residential area and over the past fortnight the Water Corporation have deepened the Wonnerup Inlet sandbar and opened the propped gate on the Vasse surge barrier to increase water levels in the estuary.

Revitalising Geographe Waterways Program Manager Dr Kath Lynch says that managers were hoping that increased water levels would reduce smells from the estuary by covering exposed sediments. Water levels have increased by nearly 10 cm since the propped gate was opened last week.

“We want to increase the water levels enough to alleviate the bad odour, whilst not impinging on waterbird habitat” said Kath.  “The wetlands are internationally recognised Ramsar wetlands and finding the right water levels over summer months that support both social and environmental values is a fine balancing act”.

“Many people think we should just keep adding water, but we need to consider the broader impacts on the ecology of the system” said Kath.

A community meeting convened by the City of Busselton at Estuary View Drive last week was well attended  with 17 community members and representatives from the Departments of Biodiversity, Conservation, and Attractions,  Water and Environment Regulation, Water Corporation and the City.

The community were able to express their concerns about the smell and options for solutions were discussed.  “It was a really valuable opportunity to talk to and listen to residents” said Kath.  They experience both the joy and challenges of living next door to the estuary”.

Community members living along Estuary View Drive are being asked to monitor the smell over coming weeks to help managers determine if the management responses are working.

Community members wishing to participate in the survey can follow the link to survey monkey or contact the DWER office on 9781 0111.

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