Camping crackdown at dam
THERE were 10 bright, new, shiny signs at Callide Dam this week as SunWater cracked down on the no camping law.
A SunWater spokesperson said the recreation and main camping area at Callide Dam was handed over to the council in 2014 and it was the privately leased land that was an issue.
"Flood margin land outside the Banana Shire Council designated camp site is owned and managed by SunWater,” the spokesperson said.
"The number of people camping illegally on private land outside the designated camping area has been gradually increasing and signs have been erected to ensure people are aware that the land is private property and unsuitable for camping.”
SunWater said there were safety and environmental concerns as to why the camping had been deemed illegal along with it being private land.
"Much of this land is leased to adjoining landholders for the purposes of grazing and we have stewardship agreements with landholders to ensure the areas are managed and maintained to meet SunWater safety and environmental standards,” the spokesperson said.
"There are toilet facilities at the approved council site but none in the other areas and this carries an increased risk of impacts on public health due to unsanitary conditions and also on water quality in the dam lake.
"Unauthorised camping in flood margin areas around the dam poses a higher risk to public safety.
"There is also an increased risk of bushfires caused by neglected camp fires that can impact nearby properties.”
The new biosecurity arrangements were also taking into account the issue of campers spreading noxious weeds.
"SunWater has responsibilities regarding biosecurity to ensure we minimise the spread of noxious weeds that can seriously impact the local environment and agricultural industry,” the spokesperson said.
"We take our responsibilities around biosecurity very seriously and have robust control measures in place, such as vehicle wash-downs to ensure we can control anyweed-related threat thatcould impact the localenvironment and economy.
"If people are entering restricted sites or private property around dams, the risk of spreading restricted weeds is increased and can compromise state and national biosecurity control programs.
"The increased level of traffic in restricted areas can also lead to ground cover, such as grass and shrub, damage and result in erosion, which can impact water quality.”
When driving out there this week, a number of caravans, campers and motorhomes were found camping, with some having been there for months.
"Campers who are currently on private property where signs have been erected have been given a week to move onto a designated camping area,” the spokesperson said.
While the rule had been relaxed over the years, SunWater advised they will not back down this time.
"SunWater conducts regular inspections of the dam and if campers are found to be illegally campedon private land wewill work with the localpolice and council to ensure they are aware of the rules and have the option to move to a more suitable site,” the spokersperson said.
"We recognise that some people may be unaware that land around Callide Dam is private property and we will continue to make sure the public is well informed so they can make good decisions when camping in the area.”