Lakeside businesses have been left reeling as the first signs of algae have begun to bloom just days after the council announced delays to the Tatton Drain diversion.
Earlier this year, Wagga City Council approved a $1 million project to harvest stormwater from the Tatton Drain into Lake Albert.
In theory, introducing more water into the lake would help bring down the water's temperature and, in turn, make it harder for algal blooms to develop.
However, the council announced this week that the project had been delayed after the NSW Government informed them they needed further approval.
Commodore of the Wagga Boat Club Mick Henderson said the situation was now in “dire straits” after he saw the first signs of the next algae outbreak already blooming.
“I was out there at the lake this morning and there was blue-green algae starting to come back already,” Mr Henderson said.
“So it’s a real concern to us now and we need to act on it as soon as possible.”
Mr Henderson said he was very disappointed red tape has delayed what many believed to be the closest thing to an algae solution Wagga was yet to come up with.
“We’re ready to put the shovels in and start the diversion, and now state water has come up with more rules and regulations,” he said.
“This is the ideal time to do it – we’ve already missed the rain event his week, and we’ll miss more rain next week.”
This year’s blue-green algae outbreak was the worst in Lake Albert’s history, leaving businesses like the Boat Club out of pocket while warnings against entering the water loomed large.
Mr Henderson said he hoped the government would not forgot those months of suffering while they waited to approve the project.
“We're talking about the economy of Wagga, tourism, and the environment – it’s more than just diverting the water into the lake, it’s the livelihood of businesses around the city,” he said.
“We’ve got ski racing this weekend and we only snuck that in by 100 millimetres of water, so if we don’t get this diversion, we’ll be lucky to have any water sports at all after Christmas.”
Council general manager Peter Thompson said state government representatives were due to reinspect the Tatton Drain on October 15, but there was no revised timeline for the work to begin.
“Council and other community representatives have met with Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr, who is liaising with the Minister and senior government officers,” Mr Thompson said.
“Council has been looking for solutions since last year but does not currently have a solution to control algae if it blooms again.”