Fears platypus habitat is under threat at Boundary Creek

Dr Michelle Ryan working with platypus at Boundary Creek in Penrith.
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The longevity of a Penrith platypus habitat is under threat, experts say, as Sydney Water works to strengthen a creek bank.

Sydney Water was ordered by the Land and Environment Court in 2021 to reinforce the bank at Boundary Creek after they were found liable for its erosion.

Conservationists have raised concerns about this work, which is likely to take three years and utilise building materials like concrete.

Coordinator of the Mulgoa Valley Landcare Group, Lisa Harrold, said it’s concerning to see the platypus habitat under threat.

“Platypus at Boundary Creek have this refuge and safe haven to build their burrows where they know there is going to be water flow, where they know there is going to be flourishing opportunities, and Sydney Water is about to turn the tap off,” she said.

“It is a genuine concern, because if they [Sydney Water] turn the tap off, at what might very well be platypus breeding central, I don’t know, but it would stand to reason that they have to go somewhere.”

The potential impact on the platypus population at Boundary Creek has made Western Sydney University Senior Lecturer Dr Michelle Ryan concerned about the future health of the platypus territory.

“We know that platypus live, feed and burrow in Boundary Creek,” she said.

“Converting the creek to an engineered, open concrete channel, will stop platypus availability to burrow into the creek banks and will diminish the available food supply.

“The construction process itself, involving the cessation of creek flow for several years adds immense pressure on the platypus population by removing Boundary Creek as available habitat.”

Harrold believes there is a way to solve this issue, but it would take cooperation between conservationists and Sydney Water.

“We have a problem; we are asking Sydney Water to find a solution. We are looking at other habitat opportunities nearby. Could we improve nearby habitats so to not just wipe out Boundary Creek and let them fend for themselves,” she said.

“It would appear that under the court order, they [Sydney Water] are going to have to do this remediation, so we are going to have to think laterally and think about what we can offer these animals.”

A Sydney Water spokesperson responded to the claims by reiterating the organisation’s aim to protect the platypus habitat, saying it would work with experts.

“The safety of the platypus and their habitat remains a high priority for Sydney Water,” the spokesperson said.

“Sydney Water is working closely with platypus experts and remains committed to finding a way to ensure their protection,

“Sydney Water is required by the Land and Environment Court to carry out stabilisation work at Boundary Creek”.

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