Beach debris washed up on Lighthouse Beach following last week’s flooding.
Beach debris washed up on Lighthouse Beach following last week’s flooding.

Beautiful beaches littered with debris, dead animals

SUMMER is not over yet, but Ballina’s beaches are looking anything but inviting.

Last week’s flooding of the Richmond and Wilsons rivers has washed down all sorts of debris, much of which is landing on Ballina’s beaches.

Over the weekend with sunny conditions and high humidity, locals looking to cool off were turned away from Lighthouse Beach which was closed because of the debris and the dirty water flowing out of the Richmond River.

Jimmy Keough, the duty officer for Far North Coast Surf Life Saving, said lifesavers from the Clarence to the Tweed had seen things like dead animals, drums and large logs and trees wash up on the beaches.

He said the debris could be washing up for weeks after the flooding, and even well after the dirty flood water has cleared up.

While the debris is not aesthetically pleasing, the submerged objects also poses a hazard to swimmers and surfers.

FLOOD DEBRIS: Ballina's Lighthouse Beach last Sunday, with flood debris washed up from the Richmond River following last week's flooding. Much of the smaller material had washed away on Monday.
FLOOD DEBRIS: Ballina's Lighthouse Beach last Sunday, with flood debris washed up from the Richmond River following last week's flooding. Much of the smaller material had washed away on Monday.

After the 2017 major flooding in Lismore, Ballina Shire Council’s budget didn’t extend to a major clean-up and it was left to nature to sweep Ballina’s beaches of the debris which had washed up.

A local tourism operator at the time pressed council for more action, saying Ballina’s beaches were a drawcard for the town.

Cr Sharon Cadwallader pushed for more to be done, and Ballina Shire Council received a State Government grant to fund a clean-up.

At the time, Cr Keith Williams argued that for the larger wooden debris, nature should be allowed to take its course, and he maintains that view.

“We do need to clean up things that are dangerous — no one argues against that — but we should be leaving some stuff there,” he said.

“It’s part of the natural process — that’s what helps build up dunes so sand stays on the beach.”

A Ballina Shire Council spokesperson said clean-up work had been undertaken on Monday to facilitate beach safety adjacent to the Lennox Head Surf Club.

“Council will continue to monitor the accumulation of debris and in accordance with policy and undertake further clean-up works if required,” the spokesperson said.



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