LENNOX LAKE RESCUE PLAN
By ALEX EASTON
DECADES of filling up on polluted water has left Lake Ainsworth ? the jewel in Lennox Head's crown ? badly degraded and suffering toxic algal blooms capable of making people seriously ill.
Now Ballina Shire Council is moving to save Lake Ainsworth.
It has unveiled a masterplan aimed at reducing the amount of pollution entering the lake, while protecting residents' ability to enjoy one of the Northern Rivers' most beautiful assets.
BALLINA Shire Council has a plan to rescue Lennox Head's Lake Ainsworth from toxic algal blooms after years of damning State Government and independent reports.
The 'jewel in Lennox Head's crown', Lake Ainsworth was tagged as badly degraded by a 2002 State Government report and a Southern Cross University report, published by the CSIRO last year.
Residents and tourists have been regularly greeted by the blooms of toxic blue-green algae, which close the lake in summer.
The blooms can cause ailments ranging from skin and eye irritations to serious illnesses.
Ballina Shire Council, at its Thursday meeting, released options for a new masterplan aimed at controlling access to the lake and at stopping new pollutants from entering it.
The plan centred on:
Catching and treating stormwater before it could enter the lake;
Removing roads along the edge of the lake and moving car parking spaces away from the lake; and Altering the design of the Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park to prevent polluted water entering the lake.
Council general manager John Christopherson said the council was trying to balance the need to restore the lake to full health with the needs of residents and commercial interests that relied on it.
He said the first step was to protect the lake from further contamination.
"Once we have that under control we can look at ways to address the issues within the lake at the moment," Mr Christopherson said.
Darren Akhurst, who wrote the SCU report, said the lake's core problems centred around the introduction of exotic fish to the lake, the removal of native water reeds and the decades-long build-up of nutrients. These issues fed the blue-green algae, while reducing competition from other forms of algae.
To restore the lake, the exotic fish would have to be removed, the reeds returned and nutrients removed from the water.
The council's options for the lake will be on public display at the Ballina Council Chambers until mid-January.
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