Elizabeth Quay seen as litter magnet
A model of Elizabeth Quay

One of WA's top water experts has savaged the State Government over its design for the Perth waterfront.

Professor Jorg Imberger says the project's centrepiece inlet will be a public health and environmental disaster.

Professor Imberger, head of the University of WA's Centre for Water Research, said the stretch of the Swan River in front of the city was the worst flushing part of the entire system.

He said it was folly for the Government to push ahead with the design when simulations showed rubbish and other waste built up in that part of the river for up to a year.

The respected scientist, whose work developing a school of study known as environmental fluid dynamics is widely acknowledged, made the comments on the eve of the Australian launch of his book.

"That foreshore is going to be a disaster from a health point of view," he said.

"Any pathogens or anything that collects in there is going to stay around for ever.

"There was an old timer who came by when we were in the boat and said, 'Jorg, why are they building this thing over there? When I was a kid all the garbage used to collect in that corner'.

"It really hasn't been thought through."

Planning Minister John Day has said the inlet, named Elizabeth Quay, was designed to allow "hydrodynamic flushing" and the Government would monitor water quality.

In a broad critique on authorities' handling of the beleaguered Swan and Canning rivers, Professor Imberger declared the system was "virtually dead" below the first 2m of the water column.

He said oxygen plants used in some parts of the river were tantamount to putting a patient on life support and the Government needed to consider radical solutions if it wanted to fix the problem.

Dismissing plans to reduce nutrient inflows as inadequate, Professor Imberger said a possible answer could include a barrage upstream from Fremantle Harbour.

He said this barrier could include a lock to accommodate boat users and could stop the infiltration of salt water into the Swan and Canning rivers, which was harming them.

The book Environmental Fluid Dynamics, which Professor Imberger called his seminal work, will cost about $100.

The West Australian

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