O’Farrell's budget cuts will put beach water quality at risk

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Water quality at Sydney beaches could get worse after the O’Farrell Government cuts $54 million from the Sydney Water infrastructure budget that pays for works to improve water quality along our coastline, the NSW Labor Opposition said today.

The 2011-12 State of the Beaches report released today shows that despite huge improvements in water quality at Sydney beaches for the last 20 years, our water quality will be in jeopardy thanks to Barry O’Farrell’s $54 million in cuts.

The O'Farrell Government has also ignored the secondary category of beaches – baths, Sydney Harbour, estuarine beaches and coastal lagoons - which have had a significant increase in the ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ categories.

In 2010-2011, there were nine secondary beaches in the ‘poor’ category; and
This year, there were 17 secondary beaches ranked as either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. For the first time, Davidson Reserve on Sydney Harbour and Foreshores Beach at Botany Bay were classed as very poor.
“For the last 20 years, Sydney has constantly improved the water quality of its beaches and swimming spots,” Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said today.

“The O'Farrell Government’s cuts to the Sydney Water infrastructure budget will jeopardise the water quality at our beaches.

“In this year's budget, Sydney Water’s capital budget has been slashed from $707 million down to $653 million - a cut of $54 million.

“The O’Farrell Government’s funding cuts should not be allowed to unwind the decades of work that has gone into restoring the quality of Sydney’s beaches.

“Sydney’s beaches are famous right around the world and we want to keep it that way.”

Shadow Water Minister, Walt Secord said: “The O’Farrell Government is also pushing out vital works for the Malabar wastewater treatment plant to 2016/17.” *

“Malabar is the worst beach for water quality in Sydney.

“These necessary works are needed to improve the water quality at Malabar for swimmers, surfers and families and should not be delayed by the O’Farrell Government.”

*Source – Sydney Water CAPEX, 2012-17. Contractor hand out.