Coffs Harbour City Council has backed further independent studies into the potential impacts of Intensive Plant Agriculture on the environment by providing just under $40,000 to Southern Cross University to investigate potential contamination of pesticides and heavy metals in soil, air, water, plants and animals near farming operations.
The project, which will be funded with $39,970 from Council’s Environmental Levy, will also involve the development of measures to mitigate any contaminant effects and offer science-based advice to the industry and other stakeholders. The university will also seek funding for the studies from the Australian Research Council.
Through the Environmental Levy (EL), Council has part-funded a number of studies undertaken by Southern Cross University to look at the impact that Intensive Plant Agriculture, such as blueberries, is having on our waterways.
The studies have included:
- Water Quality on Bucca Creek and the potential impacts of Intensive Plant Agriculture, January 2018
- Investigating water quality in Coffs Harbour coastal estuaries and the relationship to adjacent land use Part 1: Sediments (July 2018)
- Investigating water quality in Coffs Harbour coastal estuaries and the relationship to adjacent land use Part 2: Water quality (July 2018)
- Investigating soil chemistry on intensive horticulture sites and in association with dam sediments
- Investigating trace metal transport mechanisms along an intensive horticultural catchment
- Improving water quality downstream of blueberry farms (yet to be finalised).
- Nutrient transport in headwater streams surrounded by intensive horticulture (yet to be finalised)
Council, in partnership with NSW Health, also published a study in November 2019 into the results of a study of drinking water rainwater tanks located near intensive horticulture farms.
This funding was made available by the expansion of the Major Strategic Program section of the Levy to include a new theme focusing on Environmental Health and Water Quality Research that will also provide for updated estuary management plans for Darkum Creek, Woolgoolga Lake, Willis Creek and Hearnes Lake, as well as a scoping study to help develop updated estuary management plans for Moonee Creek, Coffs Creek and Boambee/Newports Creek.
Applications open on Wednesday, March 4 2020, for the next round of funding – the 2020/2021 Environmental Levy Grants Program. Grants are available from $2,000 to $25,000 and community groups are encouraged to apply.
Application forms and further information, such as policy and guidelines, are available on Council’s website at www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/ELGrants
Applications will be accepted up until 5pm Thursday, April 9 2020.