Saving it for the birds
BIRDWATCHER Molly Crawford would love to see the comb-crested jacana return to Lismore Lake.
Once the bastion of the town's recreational water sports, the man-made lake was closed in 1997 after a blue-green algae outbreak, but has since become a birdwatcher's paradise.
An impressive 75 native bird species were identified frequenting the lake in 2008, including the vulnerable comb-crested jacana and the endangered black-necked stork.
Unfortunately 2008 was also the year the council's licence to pump water from Wilsons River expired.
When not topped up by rain, its water gradually drains through the ground, causing the loss of habitat for many bird species.
Mrs Crawford, who visits every second Saturday, has noticed the birds disappearing for some time.
"It's not much of a lake now…We never see jacanas anymore. They need the lily pads, which are all gone," Mrs Crawford said.
The lake is not only attractive to birdwatchers - the surrounding parkland is also a popular recreational space for Lismore's west.
Now Lismore councillor Isaac Smith has a novel idea to save the lake, using one of Australia's possibly most underutilised resources: treated sewage.
Cr Smith will raise a motion to investigate the possibility of pumping treated effluent into the lake at tonight's council meeting.
Cr Smith said the lake had become an important amenity for the town and was worth saving.
But Cr Ekins said the best strategy was to top up the lake from the Wilsons River by renewing the licence that expired in 2008.
Council staff reported that option had been investigated but no permanent pumping licences from the Department of Environment and Conservation had become available.
Cr Smith's vision to save the lake with Limore's sewage could be its last hope.