Brisbane Creek Dangerously Polluted

Brisbane Creek Dangerously Polluted

Popular Brisbane canoeing creek often dangerously polluted with faecal bacteria

Posted on 24.07.2018

While Brisbane City Council testing reveals dangerously high levels of faecal pollution in Cabbage Tree Creek, many people using the waterway say they know nothing about it. Read the full story

A popular recreational creek in northern Brisbane regularly records dangerous levels of faecal bacteria in council testing, but many people using the waterway have told the ABC they know nothing about it.

Experts warn exposure to the dangerously high levels of enterococci bacteria recorded in Cabbage Tree Creek could cause urinary tract, ear and skin infections.

The Brisbane City Council regularly tests all the city’s waterways for pollution.

Levels of enterococci above 40 per 100 millilitres are considered a risk to human health, according to national guidelines spelt out on the BCC water monitoring website.

Last October, tests recorded a dangerously high pollution level of more than 16,000 organisms per 100mL in Oxley Creek in Brisbane’s south-west.

Then a month later, Cabbage Tree Creek near the popular Boondall Wetlands recorded an enterococci pollution level of 14,000 — 350 times the safe limit.

While this was a spike in the pollution level, water in the creek regularly exceeded the safe limit for faecal pollution, with BCC estimating its long-term pollution average to be 563 faecal organisms per 100ml.

Biomedical expert Professor Flavia Huygens from the Queensland University of Technology said those results were particularly concerning for Cabbage Tree Creek, which is used regularly by canoeists and recreational fishers.

“Anything above 500 organisms per 100mL of water is considered to be a risk to people who are exposed, so 14,000 organisms is definitely a very high risk for contracting some form of illness,” Professor Huygens said.

“There have been many reports in the past where water contamination has caused public waterways to be shut down.”

Council water pollution advice:

  • Avoid contact with water from Cabbage Tree Creek for three days after heavy rain
  • Avoid all primary contact with the waterway, including activities in which bodies are immersed, faces or other body parts are frequently immersed
  • Avoid activities in which where faces are frequently wet from spray and water can be swallowed or inhaled
  • Avoid water contact to ears, nasal passages, or cuts in the skin

ABC News




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