Riverside residents upset
By LUIS FELIU
RESIDENTS living near the Tweed River say a draft boating plan of management does not allay their fears over waterskiing noise, erosion and irresponsible behaviour.
And the problems, they say, are mostly caused by Queenslanders and will only get worse with the fast-growing population in the shire and south-east Queensland.
Two completely different points of view on the NSW Maritime Authority's draft estuary plan and the effects of waterskiing on the river were given to Tweed shire councillors at this week's community access session - by resident spokesperson Maureen Upton and river-user group spokesman Gavin McGahey.
Mrs Upton, a longtime resident of Tweed Valley Way in Murwillumbah, whose family home backs onto the river, said residents did not want to ban the sport on the river.
But they had proposed waterskiing zones as on most other similar waterways in NSW and Queensland, with the removal of towing activities upstream from the Condong Bridge.
The Tweed River Committee and council's submission to the draft plan, yet to be approved by council, recommends towing activities be banned upstream from the Murwillumbah bridge only.
"This would still give waterskiers 25 to 30 kilometres of the river for waterskiing," Mrs Upton said.
Residents, she said, also wanted waterskiing banned on Sundays and public holidays to give them some peace and quiet from the "offensive" inboard V8 engine noise.
Mrs Upton said some residents had lost several metres of riverbank due to the wash from ski boats and her family had spent thousands of dollars protecting their property from further erosion.
Irresponsible behaviour by waterskiers, she said, including offensive language and abuse of residents which resulted in police and court action, was also a problem.
"Some residents have already been forced to move elsewhere and others will follow if the problems are not adequately addressed," she said.
If Council approved the recommendation to ban towing upstream from Murwillumbah Bridge only and the Maritime Authority agreed, Mrs Upton said it would "leave the small stretch of river where we live the only riverfront residential area on the Tweed where waterskiing would be permitted".
River-user spokesman Mr McGahey told councillors in a 20-minute presentation at this week's community access meet- ing, that there was no evidence that wakeboards or waterskiers caused significant erosion which he said was mainly caused by natural weather processes.
He said a survey of about 300 people carried out by his recently-established Tweed River Awareness Committee found that many of the residents' concerns were unfounded.