Are bay sediments a window to a city’s soul?

Are bay sediments a window to a city’s soul?

28.05.2015 - Posted by Rob Catchlove
Tim Flannery’s article “Bay of Action” in The Monthly describes his experience growing up on the Port Phillip Bay and his disappointment on the current health of the bay. Sydney is described as a shining example of how a city has improved its management of coastal and harbour zones.

Sunny day on Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour - regularly flushed by the clean oceanic waters of the East Australian Current (image sourced from TrekEarth)

I would disagree that Sydney has improved due to the reasons stated. In the 1990s Sydney built offshore sewer outfalls and a massive amount of nutrients are now mixing with ocean currents. However, it’s not affecting the beaches. Sydney Harbour has a very different ‘flushing’ regime compared to Port Phillip Bay.

But I do wonder if Tim Flannery is on to something here. There is strong public support for healthy beaches in Sydney – evident by Sydney Water planning to use clean beaches as a key pillar for establishing a Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) program across the catchment and embed it within the organisation. Effectively, there is already a social licence in Sydney to do works that link to cleaner beaches.

Are bay sediments a window to a city’s soul? Where will this journey to create a clean and healthy Port Phillip Bay go next and how long will it take us to get there?