Open inlet to sea permanently: resident

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser

A Denmark resident expressed concern over the health of the Wilson Inlet during an ordinary council meeting last month.

Graeme Robertson has funded an environmental study to establish the benefits of opening the Wilson Inlet permanently into the ocean.

Mr Robertson said a permanent opening would ensure continual water exchange which could lead to the inlet water becoming as blue as that in the Prawn Rock Channel.

The report also said inlet salinity would increase once it was connected permanently to the ocean.

At present the Wilson Inlet entrance is artificially opened by the Department of Water and Environment once the water level has reached a certain height.

Department of Water and Environment Regulation south coast region manager Brett Ward said the current protocol existed as a result of an extensive review co-ordinated in 2009.

“The review concluded that opening the sandbar when the inlet is at low water levels will have detrimental effects on the inlet ecosystem’s health” he said.

“Studies have shown that opening the bar at a low level may have a negative impact on seagrass in the inlet, causing it to die”

“This seagrass population is critical to the inlet’s ability to naturally filter nutrients and there are also further complications when the seagrass dies, such as increased nutrient levels and noxious smells.”

The department’s report also showed that the inlet’s health was not deteriorating under the current opening regime. However, Mr Robertson’s environmental study found the seagrass could continue to exist even after the inlet permanently opened.

“If they had listened to me 20 years ago the inlet condition wouldn’t be like it is today,” he said.

“The report wasn’t taken too seriously so consequently all they’ve done ever since then is to spend more money trying to stop nutrients going to the inlet.”

Mr Robertson said if the inlet was opened permanently there would be an opportunity for aquaculture to be developed in the area.

The Shire of Denmark said it was aware of the inlet’s importance to the community and that it had received Mr Robertson’s environmental report last week. The Shire is reviewing the report.

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