A quiet part of the Wollondilly River can be a “world class” water skiing spot if Goulburn puts its mind to it, says a local club.
Goulburn Barefoot Water Ski Club has proposed that a section of the river at Copford Reach could be used for the sport.
Member Sam Bell addressed the most recent council meeting, saying the plan would also help clean up and reinvigorate this part of the waterway.
Mr Bell has represented Australia at the World Disabled Water Ski Championships in Elkgrove, California, helping to secure a silver medal. He leg was amputated from the knee down at age 12, due to cancer in the bone.
In 2008 he took up barefoot water skiing, a sport he said was growing in the region.
The fledgling Goulburn Club has some 15 members who ski regularly at Glenfield, Forbes, near Yass and elsewhere.
The club lodged an expression of interest to the council for use of the waterway for recreational purposes. But it has a few hurdles to jump in convincing Goulburn Mulwaree Council to give the go ahead at Copford Reach. The council’s only role is to grant approval for use of the Copford reserve and boat ramp to access the river. Crown Lands has the ultimate say and other government agencies, including Water NSW must also consent.
In a report to councillors, utilities director Marina Hollands raised concerns about noise near the new Joseph’s Gate residential subdivision, potential fuel spillage from the river and the fact it was downstream of the wastewater treatment plant’s discharge point. An emergency water pipeline installed from Copford Reach to Sooley Dam in 2006 has since been removed from the river.
But Mr Bell believes any hurdles can be overcome by controlling skiing zones and times. He pointed out that the NSW Club competed just a few kilometres downstream of the Glenfield sewage treatment works near Liverpool. He told councillors the new Goulburn plant was supposed to be state-of-the-art.
“Over 25 years we’ve built up very good relationships with Liverpool Council and more recently, Forbes Council and I believe the sport has proven itself to add value to under-utilised areas in both (regions),” Mr Bell said.
“Our commitment and respect for the site at Liverpool has placed us as a trustworthy and respected user of the waterway and we believe we can work with Goulburn Mulwaree to create the same sort of relationship.”
He described the site as ideal for its water stability and said the activity wouldn’t necessarily open the door to other sports such as weight-boarding, given river width regulations that applied.
He flagged staging of a tournament that could benefit both the sport and the community.
“We also want to use our resources to tidy up the area for people doing our sport but also the community,” he said.
Mr Bell said the NSW Barefoot Water Skiers, of which he was a member, had similarly maintained an area in front of that club’s premises.
Mrs Hollands had recommended refusal of the proposal but councillors instead decided to defer the matter for more investigation into the issues raised. A future report would include possible conditions if councillors were of a mind to approve.
Deputy Mayor Peter Walker highlighted the lack of toilet facilities and said it was not acceptable for patrons to use those at the Bradfordville Shopping Centre, as Mr Bell had suggested. But Mr Bell subsequently said the club was prepared to work with the council to source funding for and construct amenities.
Cr Andrew Banfield argued it was a chance to reinvigorate a “neglected” river that the council had only just started opening up to the community.
“There are a lot of ifs and buts but if we don’t give it a go, we’ll never know,” he said.
“If you go back through the archives, there was a massive water facility down there.”
After the meeting, Mr Bell was at least pleased councillors hadn’t said no.
“It at least gives us something to work towards. We hope to achieve our outcome,” he said.
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