Mount Isa Mayor Joyce McCulloch says Wednesday’s clean-up of the Leichhardt riverbed around the Lorraine Street area of the city was done to improve the safety of residents and the health of the river in the lead-up to the upcoming wet season.
Council crews were on-site on Wednesday morning December 5.
Workers had one bobcat and several trucks were also used to remove significant amounts of large debris, including mattresses and furniture, while crew members were on the ground to remove general items of rubbish left behind by itinerant campers.
“The problem is that the wet season will soon be upon us, and items such as pillows, tents and mattresses will easily get washed downstream and block causeways, which can worsen flooding situations or even damage infrastructure,” Cr McCulloch said. “The rubbish that litters the riverbed will also wash into the river itself, which feeds directly into the city’s water supply.”
Cr McCulloch said there was a total fire ban in place.
“The campers often light fires at night, which can pose a significant safety risk to the public if a grass fire spreads or gets out of control in these tinder-dry conditions,” she said.
“We as a Council identified the safety and environmental issues and took action to clean up the area as much as we can before the floods arrive.”
The clean-up was a joint effort between Mount Isa City Council and Mount Isa Police, with police officers conducting patrols to move itinerant campers out of the area and into suitable accommodation.
Cr McCulloch said while spending the day in the riverbed was not against the law, the campers often stay there for weeks or even months, which is illegal.
The clean-up started about 7.30am on Wednesday and finished later that morning.
They are usually held twice a year, with the itinerant campers given about a week’s warning before the Council clean-up activities and police patrol and move-on campaign.
More than 41 tonnes of rubbish was collected in October during a major riverbed clean up.