ALTHOUGH its influence and interests are national and International, Clean Ocean Foundation remains a part of the Flinders community, where it started more than 20 years ago.
“The Flinders community supported us in our first 10 years of campaigning and now we’re giving back,” president Pete Smith said when announcing the foundation would sponsor Flinders Cricket Club’s women’s team.”
The foundation is also hoping the wider community of the Mornington Peninsula will get behind its continuing efforts to finally clean up the sewage outfall at Gunnamatta (“Taxpayers’ cash ‘pours into the ocean’” The News 29/8/22).
Successful in its early campaign to have the water from the South Eastern Treatment Plant treated to a Class A level, the foundation says the effluent daily flowing into Bass Strait is contaminated with microplastics, forever chemicals (PFAS), and nitrogen.
The latest warnings of the ongoing pollution come almost one year since Gunnamatta beach was closed and Melbourne Water advised people not to engage in any recreational activities including swimming and surfing at or near the beach which is within Mornington Peninsula National Park.
At that stage Clean Ocean issued a news release headed: Cup Weekend: Closed and Polluted Beaches – Is this Victoria’s future?
“This Sunday, Cup weekend , beachgoers on the Mornington Peninsula were confronted with what may well become increasingly regular events – beaches so polluted, they are unsafe to use.
“Poorly treated waste has been dumped near the popular surfing beach, making the coastline and its waters unsafe for the last two weeks. Heavy rains that have caused flooding in Melbourne also caused the Eastern Treatment Plant to fail.”
Smith last week said nothing has changed since last year’s closure, with discharges continuing at the Gunnamatta outfall.
“We hope that the community will once again support the foundation and pressure Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and the state government about this unconscionable shoreline dumping of 400 million litres of semi-treated sewerage at Gunnamatta,” he said.
Clean Ocean Foundation says the treatment plant needs a further upgrade to make the peninsula’s coastline safe for future generations.
“We owe this to our children and to our marine environment,” Smith said.
“The ocean is not a dump. This is a real issue and a real problem and there is a real solution.”
The foundation wants wastewater from 189 outfalls around Australia to be recycled.
Smith said this would minimise the environmental effects of wastewater on the marine environment “while also ensuring a vital source of water on a dry continent is not wasted”.
The foundation counts among its successes the lobbying the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for Australia’s recreational water guidelines to be raised to match criteria adopted by the World Health Organisation.