OVERGROWN grass will likely be a very common sight in Bathurst over the coming months, as above average rainfall continues to put pressure on Bathurst Regional Council's parks and gardens staff.
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Last summer, council staff were working extra hours over a 10-week period to try to get on top of mowing activities across the city after significant wet weather.
The conditions for the impending summer are set to be similar, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting that "rainfall is likely to be above median for most of the eastern one-third of Australia" from November through to January.
Council's director of Engineering Services, Darren Sturgiss, has admitted that staff are already struggling to keep up.
"Continued extreme wet weather events in Bathurst has caused significant grass growth throughout council's many parks, reserves and open space areas and created challenges for council staff trying to keep up present mowing maintenance service levels," he said.
"Additionally, some areas are unable to be accessed to undertake mowing activities due to inundation through flooding and continued rainfall."
He said it is taking approximately nine weeks for staff to complete a full mowing cycle.
Extra mowing resources might not make much of a difference if the extreme wet weather continues.
"Regardless of the extent of resources afforded to mowing operations, the weather conditions will continue to challenge council's mowing staff during the summer growing season keeping up with the extent of grass growth," Mr Sturgiss said.
Still, council plans to bring on additional staff to assist during the summer months.
"In anticipation of the growing season and demand for mowing maintenance required throughout the Bathurst region, council has commenced employment of additional seasonal staff to assist with mowing maintenance activities and to try and reduce the backlog in mowing operations, within the funding provisions available to council," Mr Sturgiss said.
"... A proposal for additional resources to undertake mowing maintenance activities throughout Bathurst will be submitted to Council within its operational plan for consideration and as indicated council within its available funding resources has engaged a number of seasonal staff to assist with mowing operations."
He said staff will carry out mowing operations "as best they can" over the summer period, giving consideration to the adopted maintenance service levels.
Earlier in 2022, council altered some of its mowing services so resources could be allocated to other areas.
An audit found that there were 31 sections of road throughout Bathurst where council staff were maintaining the verges "for reasons not readily identified".
In light of this, council resolved to maintain verge mowing in line with its policy, meaning that those 31 areas are no longer tended to by council staff.
It was anticipated the move would save in excess of 100 hours of staff, equipment and resource time per mowing cycle, which council would redirect to its other maintenance commitments.
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