Bird Lake's future out of Port Augusta Council hands

DRIED UP: Without water management of Bird Lake, council says much of the southern part of Port Augusta will suffer from the undesirable odour.
DRIED UP: Without water management of Bird Lake, council says much of the southern part of Port Augusta will suffer from the undesirable odour.

BIRD Lake is an environmental disaster waiting to happen, if Alinta and the state government don’t agreement on its future.

BIRD LAKE: Circled in red is the area in question, while the green area covering much of Willsden is where council says residents will be most affected by the odour.

BIRD LAKE: Circled in red is the area in question, while the green area covering much of Willsden is where council says residents will be most affected by the odour.

Located adjacent the power station, the Bird Lake’s water is maintained by Alinta’s infrastructure.

Port Augusta CEO John Banks said reluctance from Alinta or the state government to continue feeding water into the lake will leave disastrous results.

If it does dry out, the odour alone will be quite high on people’s minds, especially those living around Willsden.

John Banks - Council CEO

“The lake will dry out without it, which provides significant issues,” Mr Banks said.

“If the lake dries out it will remain moist because that is a natural storm water flow area and there is capillary action and sulfates to a depth of 600 millimetres, which means it will continuously stay boggy and wet.

“It means you’re going to get odours, you’re going to get mosquitoes breeding, it’s not going to be good.

“If it dries out, the odour alone will be high on people’s minds, especially those living around Willsden.”

Alternatives to an Alinta or state government solution have not been sought, with council suggesting a takeover would cost around $1 million a year, which is not economically viable.

“My view and the view I’ll put forward, is that the people of Port Augusta should not have to dip into their own pockets whatsoever as a consequence of the Alinta closure,” Mr Banks said.

Alinta may be told by the state government to remediate the area to pre-power station conditions and leave the lake for council to deal with.

“I would absolutely reject that,” Mr Banks said. 

“On the grounds that the community has benefited from Alinta being here for the past 40 years, but the residents should not have to endure an environmental issue or a loss of an amenity as a result of them going.

“There’ll be a point where they’ll turn off the water, and if that happens on March 31 next year it won’t be more than a few weeks before we have a significant problem."

On Monday night, council decided to write to both parties asking about the future of the lake.