Blue Mountains News

Individual fined over Hazelbrook Creek crayfish kill

By Blue Mountains City Council
Posted: 11 Mar 2024
Blue Mountains City Council has called the recent fining of a Hazelbrook resident over the alleged death of hundreds of crayfish a timely reminder about our shared responsibility for waterway health

The NSW Environmental Protection (EPA) fined the individual $8250 after its investigation, which was supported by Council, found nearly 40 litres of the diluted pesticide Bifenthrin accidentally spilt on the driveway of a private property.

The pesticide flowed into the stormwater system, causing a major crayfish kill along 600 metres of Hazelbrook Creek.

The pesticide was detected in water, sediment, and crayfish samples collected from the impacted creek. Bifenthrin is commonly used for general pest control, such as termites, spiders, ants, and cockroaches and is highly toxic to crayfish and other aquatic organisms.

Blue Mountains Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said: “It’s a timely reminder of how vulnerable the waterways are in our World Heritage Area.  We must remember that we all have a responsibility to protect them.

“The actions of a private individual resulted in this devastating impact to our native wildlife. I urge all individuals and businesses to handle chemicals carefully and to ensure that all measures are taken to prevent spills and contamination.

“As a community, I also encourage each and every one of us to consider using alternative pest control methods so we can keep pesticides out of our drains and waterways.”

The Giant Spiny Crayfish, a local native species, face many dangers from runoff, pesticides and habitat destruction. The species is slow to mature and reproduce and are known to live for up to 50 years. They can take up to nine years to reach breeding age, and fewer than one in 1000 survive to adulthood.

Council conducts water monitoring and ecological surveys, including crayfish counts, which play a critical role in identifying potential threat to water quality and water-dependent ecosystems.

How you can help

You can help to look after our crayfish in several ways:

  • Choose eco-friendly pest treatment options, and minimise chemical use on your property
  • Leave crayfish in place when you see them
  • Keep pollutants such as dog poo, grass clippings and sediment out of gutters and stormwater drains
  • Report illegal fishing to the Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536
  • Contribute to the Blue Mountains Crayfish Count
  • Report sightings of dead crayfish to Council - 02 4780 5000
  • Make your home or business more ‘water sensitive’ by reducing stormwater runoff from your property – e.g. by installing a rainwater tank and using the water in your toilet, laundry and garden.
 
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