Air & water quality
Clean air and healthy waterways are important so we can have a thriving local environment, economy and community.
Air quality is a measure of the suitability of air for breathing by people, plants and animals.
Exposure to air pollution can cause or contribute to serious health problems, including heart and lung conditions and cancer.
Wood smoke pollution
Smoke from wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution. Wood smoke contains fine particles that go deep into our lungs, as well as noxious gases like carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and toxic or carcinogenic compounds.
You can be affected by wood smoke from your own wood heater and others in your neighbourhood. The health effects of wood smoke depend on the extent of your exposure to smoke, your age and current state of health.
People who are more at risk are:
- infants and very young children
- those with existing cardiac or respiratory conditions such as asthma
- those with vascular complications from diabetes
- frail elderly people.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority provides information on how you can minimise pollution from your wood heater.
Water quality is important for health and recreation, ecosystem habitats and industries such as farming, fishing and mining.
Water quality monitoring
Council has for many years conducted water quality monitoring at several locations in the Macleay estuary and some tributaries.
Council is developing a strategic water quality monitoring program to ensure monitoring fulfils its objectives to understand water quality and catchment influences on water quality values.
The monitoring will provide baseline environmental information on how the systems responds to changing and diverse climatic conditions and any potential issues for human health and environmental values. The program will allow Council to strategically analyse water quality trends over longer time frames and determine whether further investigation is required.
When it rains heavily, many different pollutants are washed from roads, footpaths and other surfaces into our waterways. Many of these pollutants can harm human and animal health and damage ecosystems.
Pollutants that often make their way into stormwater include:
- oils, grease and petrol from vehicles, commercial and industrial activity, service stations and marine activities
- chemical nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilisers and detergents
- pesticides and herbicides, which can enter the food chain and harm animals and people
- bacteria and viruses, mostly from sewage overflows or system defects
- sediments and solid materials
- rubbish, which can cause blockages and harm wildlife.
How you can help reduce stormwater pollution
You can take many simple steps to reduce or prevent pollutants entering our waterways.
- Report to Council any water pollution issues caused by sediment, building waste, plant matter, paint, chemicals or sewage using our Report an Issue form.
- Wash your car on a grassed area to absorb detergents, oil and grit.
- Collect animal waste and put it in your red bin or a sewage system.
- Compost grass, garden cuttings and food scraps.
- Keep your bins covered and secured.
- Sweep paths and driveways, then collect the debris and put it in your green bin or compost system.
- Use non-harmful alternatives to pesticides, herbicides and chemicals.
- Use a minimal quantity of chemicals, and carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions.
- Dispose of building waste and any excess chemicals, paints and solvents properly – see Waste & recycling centres.
- Rinse paint brushes on the lawn to absorb paint.
- Revegetate exposed soil areas with grass or plants to stabilise them and prevent erosion.
- Make sure any excavations or stockpiles of sand or soil are protected on the low side and have silt fencing to prevent erosion.